Chick-fil-A Inc. will phase out chicken raised with antibiotics from its supply chain within the next five years in response to customer demand, the company said Tuesday.

The Atlanta-based operator said it would be the first national quick-service chain to make the switch.

In a press release, the company said its consumer research indicated an interest in how food was made and where it was sourced, “with a particular interest in the use of antibiotics.”

"A shift this significant will take some time, as it requires changes along every point of the supply chain — from the hatchery to the processing plant. Our suppliers are committed, and we pledge to have this conversion complete within five years or sooner based on supply chain readiness,” Chick-fil-A executive vice president of operations, Tim Tassopoulos, said in the release.

Starting in 2015, the company will begin posting quarterly updates about the status of the conversion, he added. “We want to make it easy for customers to monitor our progress,” he said.

Chick-fil-A said it is partnering with national and regional poultry suppliers to raise the necessary supply of chicken to match its sales volume, which in 2012 exceeded $4.56 billion.

Last year, Chick-fil-A said it would remove yellow dye from its chicken soup. It is also testing the removal of high-fructose corn syrup from its dressings and sauces, as well as artificial ingredients from its buns and the preservative tert-Butylhydroquinone, or TBHQ, from its peanut oil.

Chick-fil-A, with nearly 1,800 units, surpassed KFC as the country’s largest chicken chain in terms of domestic sales, according to Nation’s Restaurant News’ latest Top 100 report.

Contact Bret Thorn at bret.thorn@penton.com.
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