BEEF Daily

Panera Bread Uses Fear To Sell Chicken Sandwiches #PluckEZChicken


Ranchers fight back on Panera’s fear-mongering tactics in new ad campaign.

I don’t frequent Panera Bread much since the soup-and-sandwich chain doesn’t have much of a presence in my area. However, in my future travels, you can be sure I’ll pass by that restaurant and choose another. Why? Because of the chain’s new advertising campaign, which calls ranchers “lazy” for using antibiotics.

Panera Bread has created a new Twitter account @EZChicken. Its new Facebook graphic boasts the slogan, “The road to switching to antibiotic-free isn’t easy, but it sure is tasty.” In addition, the marketing campaign contends that using antibiotics in livestock production is a lazy way for livestock producers to not care for their animals. The image includes a chicken shaped in the form of a pill with tag lines such as: “Hard work pays off eventually, but lazy pays off now.”

panera bread ez chicken campaignIn response to the campaign, producer Carrie Mess wrote a scathing editorial on her blog, Dairy Carrie, that further describes the new marketing campaign. Her response was followed by an overwhelming outcry from the agricultural community, which Panera characterized as one of the loudest responses ever to one of its campaigns. Good job, guys! Check out #PluckEZChicken on Twitter.

I’m sure the company thought its campaign would help sell those expensive sandwiches and paninis. Instead, it’s quickly losing customers because of its #EZChicken campaign.

Following her blog post, Mess received a response from Panera, in which the chain promised to rephrase the campaign and eliminate references to EZChicken. You can read the response here.

common ground ag advocacyWhile the information is still online, Common Ground has put together an excellent infographic that is going viral. The graphic reads, “The talk: 80% of the antibiotics used in the U.S. are given to livestock. The truth: People and their pets use 10 times more antibiotics than our nation’s livestock. Bottom line: Livestock producers use antibiotics for the same reason as the rest of us, to keep their animals, and our food, safe and healthy.”

Another great blog on this topic is from Mom At The Meat Counter. Read "Antibiotics In The Meat Supply: Residues Vs. Resistance." 

I'm all for truth in marketing, and I don't believe in scaring folks to sell a product. Let Panera know how you feel by using the hashtag #PluckEZChicken in your conversations online. 

What do you think about the ad campaign? How do you respond to a fast-food chain that calls you lazy? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below. 


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Discuss this Blog Entry 16

on Jul 30, 2013

Unfortunately these types of ads are driven by a very vocal minority. I am glad to see that there has been strong response from the livestock community.

The number of people with any knowledge about raising livestock is declining at a rapid rate. And trying to inform the uninformed consumer is more than a huge challenge.

tidwellfarm (not verified)
on Jul 30, 2013

This is the comment I made on Panera's Facebook page:
You say you don't take the easy road when it comes to your "antibiotic-free" meat/eggs...but what you don't say is that you take the cheaper road. You can offer healthy beef, but it looks like you take the "low road" when it comes to your protein options. As a beef producer, I am offended that you accuse us of being lazy. If you only knew the hours spent caring for our livestock in the committed manner in which we do. It would be as inhumane to allow a sick calf to suffer, as it would be to deny treatment to a child. My family and I will no longer patronize this establishment!

Anonymous (not verified)
on Jul 30, 2013

Using antibiotics is not the easy way, just the humane way when fighting infections, whether it is cattle, humans or chickens I would suggest to the folks who run the Panera enterprise to refuse to use antibiotics the next time they have an infection so they will not be lazy hypocrites! And my family will be sure not to patronize that establishment again.

Hubert Lingnau (not verified)
on Jul 30, 2013

If you think that ranchers are lazy then you have never been around a rancher or farmer in your life. That is one of the hardest jobs there is. the hours are long and hard.
Making chicken sandwiches is nothing compared to ranching.

Adam (not verified)
on Jul 30, 2013

I spend a lot of time visiting with folks that have absolutely no direct connection to the livestock industry and there are misconceptions, there are some biases that are very misinformed.

People are, I must say, in most instances pleasantly surprised to learn that at our ranch we use antibiotics therapeutically as opposed to feeding daily or in some form "force" fed these substances.

Most of the people are from large cities and very large suburban areas that never visit a farm or ranch and actually have no interaction with the livestock industry. There is a large gap in the actual facts and knowledge that people have access to on issues of food resources unbiased access at least.

AgLander (not verified)
on Jul 30, 2013

Panera caters to an urban based crowd that is ignorant of agriculture crop production and husbandry. It serves a customer base of low information individuals who are susceptible to misleading or false messages about the food they eat and how it is produced. There are plenty of food activists and anarchists who carry out organized campaigns of false or alarmist information targeted at the urban based low information consumer. Panera decided to take the low road in the drive for market share and joined the food activists and anarchists by becoming a merchant of misinformation.

cntrymomof2 (not verified)
on Jul 30, 2013

This is what I posted on their page:
I find it appalling that you assume that all farmers and ranchers are lazy. I am assuming you have never done the actual research to know that all meat is antibiotic free. Many producers are getting away from feeding their animals antibiotics just because. Many producers find themselves changing out the antibiotics they do have to use on a sick animal because they too closely resemble the ones humans take. Yes antibiotics are use but in the case of a sick or injured animal. A farmer or rancher is not going to sit by and let a sick or injured animal suffer. Just like you would take your child to the doctor when he is sick. Producers treat their animals with great care and concern. We are not all evil like you want the world to perceive us. Maybe next time you should actual go out and visit a producer. I sure don't see or anyone else from your company out in the snow, rain and cold in the middle of the night checking on the heifers to make sure they calf with ease. You are not worried in the middle of the night if that poor sick calf is going to make it through the night until you can get the vet in. How about coming out of your air conditioned fancy office in 100 degree heat to fix the broken tractor or to move pipe. We are far from lazy.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Jul 30, 2013

I agree most have no idea what we do and educating the public is a huge undertaking. But we need to be careful to not sound like poor us out in the cold and rain too much. The next thought will be all animals need a barn all the time.

Kay Pullen (not verified)
on Jul 30, 2013

I just read this blog. (What does 'blog' mean anyway?) I don't watch much t.v. & recieve our little rural newspaper- it never speaks of issues outside of our 2(?) counties. I've not heard of all this till today.
And it rankles me much. My family has been in Beef & farming for 6 generations at the original farmstead. As we say around here ; this info really chaps my hide!!
It's not about chicken but the attack on people raising livestock! The same livestock that fills their bellies everday! HOW DARE THEY!!?
I will keep up w/the issue thru your blog.
Thank-you for bringing this to so many that need this info. Especially to livestock raisers.

Jacquie (not verified)
on Jul 30, 2013

Animal Rights advocates are trying to eliminate the use of all meat in our diets. They spew their lies and people buy into it. Why? Because most people are so far removed from their food sources that they don't have a clue how anything is done. Organic doesn't necessarily mean no chemicals. Organic food is allowed to have certain chemicals used on it. The requirements vary state by state so unless you grow your own. Well, you don't know for sure. Our farmers and ranchers work very long and hard hours to provide us with the safest and the best food to put on our tables. Antibiotics are regulated, and animals can't be slaughtered until they are off them for weeks in most cases. This is just another tactic being used by fanatics that don't want anyone using animals in any way, shape or form and their numbers are growing daily. Educate those that don't have a clue, that's the only way to stop this insanity.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Jul 30, 2013

Here's what I wrote:
I will never eat at Panera again. I raise beef and like most farmers and ALL HUMANS, use antibiotics to help a sick animal. This rarely happens on our place, but I'll give a calf an antibiotic shot rather than have it die of pneumonia.

You people are so far removed from your food sources, be it animal or plant, that fear drives out reason. I invite you to visit a few real farms - not factory farms, not 10000-acre "farms", but a real diversified farm. Your eyes will be opened and your palate enlightened.

And by the way, I assume none of you would deign to use an antibiotic to treat anything in yourself or your children, right?

on Jul 30, 2013

I hope all these loonies will enjoy eating their little green crackers.
(Soylent Green)

W.E. (not verified)
on Jul 30, 2013

Feeding antibiotics routinely is the problem that Panera tried so undiplomatically to address. Most cow/calf producers do not feed any antibiotics. If our cattle get sick, we may give the appropriate injections of antibiotics to clear up the occasional case of pneumonia or pinkeye. Those of us who raise cattle entirely from conception to consumer on pasture do not need to feed antibiotics, use hormone implants or steroids to make our cattle grow faster. What's more, our cattle don't have to deal with salmonella, e. coli, shipping fever or a host of other problems that are common in feedlots. If most cattlemen were raising our own homebred cattle entirely on our home ranches, the question of antibiotic resistance would not arise. The problems that have led so many cattle feeders to feed antibiotics routinely would not exist. The problems are not with ranchers, but with the shortcuts that often take place at other stops along the chain of ownership between the ranch and the supermarket.

W.E. (not verified)
on Jul 31, 2013

Here's a quote from Bob Martin, Senior Policy Advisor at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future that might be helpful in clarifying this issue. It doesn't attack the methods most ranchers use to care for sick animals, only routine 'non-therapeutic' use of antibiotics: "A number one public health concern was the non-therapeutic use of antimicrobials in food animal production. We defined non-therapeutic by defining therapeutic as the need to treat a sick animal with an infection or disease that has been diagnosed. We termed everything else non-therapeutic. Therefore, the routine low-level daily use of antibiotics that most industrial animal operations currently use to offset overcrowding and poor environmental conditions would be considered non-therapeutic and should be phased out, stopped, and banned completely. At the time, the estimate of antibiotic genes found in all animal food production sold in the United States was 70 percent. It is now 80 percent, with the vast majority given non-therapeutically. Non-therapeutic use of antibiotics is a major driver for antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which could make it harder to treat fairly common infections in people."

Anonymous (not verified)
on Oct 6, 2013

we buy range fed turkeys at an Amish market near our home. I asked the kids how they catch the turkeys each week. They said they run after them until they catch them. No growth harmones no antibiotics. The largest size turkey is 10 pounds. They meat tasts good, it is subsantial to chew. Chews like meat. Is not greesy. Now how come the turkeys in the superrmarkets are 25 pounds? Where do the 15 pounds come from? It certainly isn't normal. Eat what you want, its your life, or lack thereof.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Oct 7, 2013

Antibiotics don't just protect animals from infection; it was found in the 50's to cause the animals to put on extra weight and mass with the same amount of feed. That is the laziness they are talking about. It's much easier to use chemicals instead of increasing the quality and quantity of the feed.

Over-use of antibiotics has also led to a dangerous increase in resistant bacteria. Pointing that out is not fear mongering.

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BEEF Daily Blog is produced by rancher Amanda Radke, one of the U.S. beef industry’s top social media “agvocates.”


Amanda Radke

Amanda Radke is a fifth generation rancher from Mitchell, S.D., who has dedicated her career to serving as a voice for the nation’s beef producers. A 2009 graduate of South Dakota State...

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