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Wendy's ditching chicken antibiotics in new test

Wendy's fast-food restaurant in Brooklyn, New York
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Wendy's fast-food restaurant in Brooklyn, New York

Fast food restaurant chain Wendy's is testing antibiotic-free chicken items in a handful of markets as it evaluates a broader move away from antibiotics in the meat.

Its current antibiotic plans bans some antibiotics but not all: "Wendy's policy strictly prohibits the use of antibiotics that are medically important to humans for the sole purpose of growth promotion. We believe that antibiotics used in livestock and poultry should only be used for the prevention, control and treatment of disease."

As part of the test, four test markets (Orlando, Gainesville, Kansas City and Austin) will sell grilled chicken raised without any antibiotics to gauge consumer perception and supply availability.

The test follows several other initiatives in the fast food space and the broader food industry to cut down on the use of antibiotics.

Earlier this year, McDonald's USA pledged to stop using antibiotics important to human medicine in chicken production by March 2017. Last year, chicken chain Chick-fil-A said it was working with suppliers to remove all antibiotics from its chicken supply within five years.

Suppliers have also doubled down on efforts to cut back on antibiotic use. By September 2017, Tyson aims to eliminate human antibiotics from its broiler chicken production.

Dow Jones first reported Wendy's is testing antibiotic-free chicken.