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Papa John’s antibiotics pledge marks first for segment

Pizza concept to stop sourcing chicken treated with antibiotics

Papa John’s International Inc., said on Wednesday that it plans to start using chicken raised without antibiotics, and on a 100-percent vegetarian diet by next summer, making it the first national pizza chain to make such a commitment.

The chicken will be used as toppings for the company’s grilled chicken pizza, as well as its chicken poppers.

The company said Wednesday that has already secured contracts with suppliers to ensure that they can provide it with enough antibiotic-free chicken.

“This antibiotics initiative embodies everything our brand stands for,” John Schnatter, founder and CEO of Papa John’s, said in a statement. “I started this company over 31 years ago on a foundation of quality and commitment to my customers to deliver on a promise of Better Ingredients, Better Pizza. By serving high-quality chicken products without added human or animal antibiotics, we’re just taking the next step on our journey to always get better.

Numerous restaurant chains in recent years have committed to ending the use of chicken treated with antibiotics. Some, such as McDonald’s, promise to use chicken treated without the use of human antibiotics but will allow for chickens to be treated with animal antibiotics when they are sick. But other chains, like Chick-fil-A and now Papa John’s, are eliminating the use of antibiotics altogether.

The trend has grown amid concerns that use of antibiotics in animals promotes the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that makes infections more difficult to treat.

For Papa John’s, the decision to serve chicken without antibiotics follows through on the company’s efforts to serve products with a cleaner label. The company has already committed to not using trans-fats, MSG, fillers and partially hydrogenated oils.

Contact Jonathan Maze at [email protected]
Follow him on Twitter at @jonathanmaze

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