Drugs Found In Empire’s Glatt Kosher, Antibiotic-Free Chicken

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Urge your Jewish community (e.g., synagogue, JCC, Hillel, summer camp, school) to commit to serving alternatives to factory farmed products like Empire chicken. It’s impossible to sustain our current appetite for meat without factory farming, which means all of us will have to reduce our consumption of animal products. Ask your community to start by leaving Empire chicken off their plates–you will receive resources from us to help lead your community to action.

Farm Forward’s recently launched drug testing program has found that the largest producer of kosher chicken in the country, Empire Kosher Poultry, uses a drug called fenbendazole in its antibiotic-free chicken.* The drug is used widely in conventional animal agriculture but is prohibited within the USDA Organic program.

While fenbendazole, an anti-parasitic, is not included with the relatively few drugs classified as “antibiotics” by the USDA, it is one of several kinds of drugs used to manage infectious disease outbreaks on crowded, filthy factory farms. Most consumers who see the claim “Raised without antibiotics” likely believe that Empire’s products come from healthy animals raised in good conditions. Nothing could be further from the truth. Empire’s chickens, like virtually all poultry raised in the US, are bred with unhealthy genetics and live crammed by the thousands into indoor barns, posing an enormous threat to public health.

While the widespread use of drugs and antibiotics is not unique to Empire, kosher companies’ complicity in raising birds that suffer from tremendous welfare problems and need drugs to keep them alive until slaughter should raise serious concerns for Jewish communities everywhere. In recent months, Jewish leaders have been calling communities’ attention to kosher humanewashing, which deceives conscientious consumers into thinking that kosher products are inherently better for animal welfare—sometimes through intentional use of unregulated claims such as “humanely raised” or “antibiotic-free.” In addition to its antibiotic claim, Empire’s poultry products all bear a misleading “humanely raised” claim on their packaging.

It is time for Empire and all kosher meat companies to phase out intensive methods for breeding and raising birds that necessitate the subtherapeutic use of drugs to keep animals alive. Until they make that commitment, we urge communities to heed the call of Jewish leaders to avoid factory-farmed products wherever possible, opting to serve meals that more closely align with our values.

*Lab report available upon request. Email [email protected].

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