Costco is pumping fewer antibiotics into its meat products as it embarks on a $275 million plan to own its chicken supply chain

  • Costco will cut down on the amount of antibiotics used in its meat products, according to The Seattle Times.
  • The move is likely in response to the growing problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
  • Costco is following in the footsteps of companies like Pizza Hut and KFC in reducing the use of antibiotics in meat products. 

Costco is pretty famous for its meats.

It's a prime location for rotisserie chicken. It's got a carnivore-friendly food court filled with hot dogs and chicken bakes. Plus, thanks to its bulk-sized offerings, many a member will find themselves walking out with quite a lot of meat.

The retailer runs its own beef supply operation and is looking to establish a similar outfit for poultry in Fremont, Nebraska. The new chicken-processing factory, which will open its doors in September 2019, will cost $275 million. It's slated to churn out 100 million chickens a year once it's up and running.

From now on, though, the warehouse chain is going to be handling its protein products a bit differently.

The Seattle Times reported that Costco recently established "new standards and monitoring requirements for antibiotic use in animal agriculture."

In other words, it's cutting back on the amount of antibiotics used in its meat.

Read on: 8 mistakes you should avoid when shopping for wine at Costco

Costco has published a statement on its overall commitment to animal welfare on its website: "Our policy is to limit application of these antibiotics to therapeutic use for the prevention, control, and treatment of disease and not, for example, for purposes of growth promotion or feed efficiency."

In that statement, the retailer pledged to set a target date by which compliance with its new antibiotics policy "will be mandatory and monitored" and "assess the feasibility of eliminating the routine use of medically important antibiotics for prevention of disease among supplier farms" during or before December 2020.

Though a Costco spokesperson did not immediately return Business Insider's request for comment, the looming threat of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is likely the reason it updated the policy. Previously, many animal farms pumped all their livestock with antibiotics to prevent illness, regardless of whether or not any of the animals were sick. The US uses antibiotics in about 70% of its agricultural products.

Thanks to the overuse of antibiotics in farming, scientists are predicting that antibiotic resistance could kill 10 million people annually by 2050. HSBC has sounded the alarm on the practice, saying that the consequences of antibiotic resistance could be "devastating" for humanity. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have concluded that antibiotic-resistant "nightmare bacteria" are on the rise in the US.

But Costco isn't the only well-known company to start easing off the antibiotics. Whole Foods has even more stringent guidelines for its meat products, according to the Seattle Times. Pizza Hut, Papa John's, Papa Murphy's, and KFC are establishing policies with the intent of springing for chicken raised without antibiotics.

See Also:

Read Full Story