Papa-Johns_406x250Papa John’s is the latest fast-food chain to announce plans to cut out antibiotics from its chicken production. But while McDonald’s set a two-year timeline, Chick-fil-A set a five-year timeline, and Subway was criticized for setting no timeline at all, the pizza chain is pledging to be antibiotic-free by next summer. Papa John’s will be the first national pizza chain to serve their grilled chicken pizza toppings and chicken poppers with chicken never raised with antibiotics. Antibiotics are commonly used to promote the growth of food-producing animals and to prevent, control and treat disease. Overuse of antibiotics on farms can lead to resistant bacteria that cause infections in both animals and humans and could spread resistance genes from animal bacteria to human pathogens. Each year, antibiotic-resistant infections from foodborne germs cause an estimated 430,000 illnesses in the United States. Multi-drug resistant Salmonella, from food and other sources, causes about 100,000 illnesses in the U.S. each year. Chicken production has seen major shifts toward being antibiotic-free in the past two years – much more so than other animal protein sources, such as pork or beef. This is likely the result of multiple factors, including the short lifespan of chickens and vertically integrated production systems. (To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)