We recently received this customer question and wanted to share the answer with you all, as there’s a very common misconception about Australian chicken and the way it’s produced.
Hi, are your chicken liver treats hormone and antibiotic free?”
So, are there hormones in chicken?
Contrary to popular belief, Australian chickens are not given hormones of any description, and the practice has actually been illegal for the past 50 years. Administering hormones to chickens would be similar to insulin for diabetics, they must be injected rather than ingested, and so the chickens would require hormone injections daily. On poultry farms where there are around 50,000 birds, this would be impossible even if farmers wanted to do it. Despite the fact that Australian chicken has been hormone-free for 50 years, around 75%* of people still believe that there are hormones added to chicken in Australia. *According to Andrew Dubs, executive director of the Australian Chicken Meat Federation.
Why the misconception?
Compared to decades ago, the chickens you see in the supermarkets are substantially larger than they used to be. KFC was introduced to Australia in 1968, and by the 70’s there were dozens of the chicken franchise all over the country. The popularity and demand for chicken grew so much that farmers initiated selective breeding programs to produce faster growing, larger chickens who were also more resistant to disease. Back in the 60’s, the chickens bred for meat would take 90 days of growth to reach their market weight, but now chickens are ready after just 35 days. The rapid increase in chicken size, particularly their breast muscles, was what sparked the rumour of hormones being added to chicken in Australia. Supermarkets and major poultry brands have jumped on this misconception and now use it to drive sales by marketing their chicken as “hormone-free”. This has further reinforced the idea to consumers that chicken that’s not labelled as “hormone-free” must therefore have hormones in it.
What about antibiotics?
Use of antibiotics on chickens is endorsed by the Australian Chicken Meat Federation for two purposes- to treat bacterial infection, and to prevent infection. Administration of medicines must be done after consultations with veterinarians, the medicine must be approved by the National Health and Medical Research Council and the National Registration Authority and must be used as a last resort. Chickens which have received antibiotics must not be sold as “organic”.
It is ensured that the chickens are given adequate time to metabolise the antibiotics so that they do not leave any trace in the meat by the time it is culled. There are strict regulations in place by the Australian Chicken Meat Federation including a withholding period after the animal’s final dose. Chicken liver and chicken breast used for love’em treats may have been fed antibiotics for illness treatment or prevention purposes, but no trace of antibiotics remains in the meat after culling.
Furthermore, the chickens that we source for our chicken liver treats and chicken breast treats are raised in large poultry barns in Victoria Australia, not cages.