Why I'm Furious at Panera Bread (and you should be, too!) | On the Banks of Squaw Creek: Why I'm Furious at Panera Bread (and you should be, too!)
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Saturday, July 6, 2013

Why I'm Furious at Panera Bread (and you should be, too!)

Panera has recently switched to antibiotic free chicken.  While I don’t agree with their decision to go antibiotic free, it doesn’t bother me too much.

What infuriates me, then?  The advertising campaign that goes along with it. The EZChicken campaign clearly sends the message that farmers who use antibiotics are lazy.

Puh-leaze.  My farmer is lazy because he gives our poultry antibiotics when they’re sick?  That makes him LAZY?

Farmers, like my husband, work 7 days a week to keep their livestock comfortable and healthy.  They work in all kinds of conditions, from blizzards to extreme heat.  These farmers often work early mornings, late nights and even check on things in the middle of the night if needed.  In addition to the manual labor and time in the barns, farmers are also business managers who have to manage the finances of the farm and they spend countless hours learning the best new management practices and technology.

The decision to use antibiotics is made carefully, with the guidance of veterinarians and decades of research.  The decision is NOT based on laziness or a fear of hard work.  And there are many safeguards in place to make sure that antibiotic use on farms does not negatively affect your food.  Antibiotics have strict withdrawal times (the amount of time it takes for the medicine to leave an animal's body) and flocks are tested for antibiotic residues before they go to market. 

As I've said before, decisions about animal care should be left to the experts - farmers and veterinarians and scientists that work with them.  But as much as I disagree with Panera's choice of antibiotic free chicken, the real problem here is their portrayal of modern farmers.  We should be thanking our farmers for doing one of the hardest jobs in the world, not calling them lazy because of well-informed decisions that promote animal health and welfare.

If Panera's new advertising methods make you angry, let them know!   Leave a comment on the Panera Bread facebook page and share my blog posts about antibiotics so that all those Panera fans know the truth about their shady advertising.


  1. Go, Katie!
    The claims and/or insinuations that some groups/companies are making are WAY out of line.
    I'm with you. (off to Panera Bread's site to say so, too)

  2. I AGREE with you, Katie! We raise beef cattle and to call any farmer lazy is INSANE!!! My hubby has such an awesome eye for sick cattle, he does a fantastic job of catching animals before they get very sick, and he is so in-tune to what works best proactively to insure the very best product for the consumer.

    Also, for the farmers' bottom line and ultimately the consumer's demanded low price, EVERY animal that comes onto our farm, needs to leave in the best of health. Losing even one calf costs us dearly.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Claire - your comment came through my email. Is there a way I can contact you? I'd like to continue this conversation.

  4. Katie,
    I do agree with you that it isn't right to call ANY farmer lazy. Panera should have more integrity. Being a farmer is hard work! But with regards to the antibiotic free chicken I do support their decision and I think more companies will be going this route soon.

    1. Well, technically, every company serves antibiotic-free chicken, because there are NO antibiotics in any meat we eat.

      But if you mean that more companies will be serving meat from animals not treated with antibiotics, I'm not sure whether that will become more prevalent or not. I know, that if left up to the scientists, researchers, vets and farmers who are experts on raising animals, antibiotics will continue to be an important part of livestock farming. The REAL scientific data (not fear-mongering marketing) shows that the way farmers use antibiotics is safe and healthy for animals and humans.

  5. Farmers are not lazy...at least the ones I know...but I do not want antibiotics in my meat
    If a cow is sick enough to require antibotics, then it should not be butchered. I completely support farmers who produce antibiotics free meat. I buy local and organic fruits and vegetables and antibiotic free meat.

    Just as it is your right to give antibiotics to your cattle, it is my right to buy antibiotics free meat and support restaurants with the same mindset.

    1. If you want to eat meat from animals that have not been treated with antibiotics, that's fine. I have nothing against that.

      But an important point to make - there are NO antibiotics in ANY meat. When an animal is given antibiotics, there are strict withdrawal times, meaning the farmer has to wait until the antibiotics are out of the animal's system to send it to market. There is regular testing to be sure farmers are following these strict rules.

      So, technically, ALL meat is antibiotic free. :)


  6. http://thinkprogress.org/health/2013/04/18/1880861/antibiotic-resistant-meat/

    Just too much evidence that the system is not working.

    1. I don't have time to go through the articles point by point to show you the scientific evidence that proves them incorrect, because I have a 5 year old who wants me to help him write a story. So instead, I'll post a couple of links for you:

      1. http://www.bestfoodfacts.org/search?q=antibiotics
      2. http://www.onthebanksofsquawcreek.com/2013/05/ground-turkey-fear-vs-facts.html
      3. http://hurdhealth.com/tag/antibiotics/
      4. http://www.ahi.org/issues-advocacy/animal-antibiotics/

    2. On Food and Farm tomorrow (August 2) at noon EDT on America's Web Radio we'll be talking antibiotics with Dr. Janeal Yancey, Dr. Len Bull and Dr. Michael Doyle. Tune in!

  7. Thanks for providing some clarification about antibiotics and chickens. I think it's ironic that Panera is implying farmers who give their chickens antibiotics are lazy because isn't Panera lazy? I like to eat all kinds of foods and enjoy breakfast there from time to time, but they shouldn't pretend like they don't serve soups that they just heat in bags, or that they changed their bread recipe to include ingredients that make it last longer on the shelves, or that they get their bread in frozen before they bake it. Crazyness.