Dear Panera Bread Company.


July 23, 2013 by dairycarrie

Dear Panera Bread Company,

You’ve lost a customer. Now most people wouldn’t offer to help someone out that they don’t like but I am going to be the bigger person here and give you a heads up.

On Friday I stopped into one of your stores to grab a bite to eat after spending the morning at the Dane County Fair watching the hard working 4H and FFA kids showing their dairy cattle. My mother-in-law was along for the ride and since the line was long and she needed time to pick out her sandwich before getting to the counter I grabbed one of your handy menus from a stand. That’s where I found this…

Panera Bread Menu

“All natural” and “Antibiotic free” chicken. Well Ok…. What exactly does that mean? I mean all chicken must meet the standards that the USDA has in place for antibiotic withholding, regardless of production practices. At first when I saw this I just started to shake my head. Another company using a label that implies that other choices are bad or dangerous is nothing new or earth shattering. I would have let it go, I mean labels like yours are a dime a dozen these days. But when I posted on my facebook page about it, someone informed me of your new marketing campaign.

Your new twitter account... wow... just wow.

Your new twitter account… wow… just wow. But you’ve got a ton of followers… err, no you don’t. Sorry, my bad.


Panera Bread wants us all to Live Consciously, with a capital C! Why? Because most unconscious people don’t buy baked goods and sandwiches!

Let’s talk about the marketing campaign that you launched along with your “All natural, antibiotic free” poultry. Mr. or is it Mrs. EZChicken?

In your dreams.

Panera Chicken

She/he seems to be guilty of sloth. I mean who knew that they even made chicken sized hammocks? Of course chickens aren’t really out there holding up pharmacies to get drugs. Even if they somehow pulled off looking intimidating, chickens can’t get the pill bottles open. While you can order some chicken fingers with your fries, chicken thumbs aren’t on the menu. It doesn’t take a genius to understand what you’re really saying here.

panera bread company chicken

I mean surely Panera Bread Company’s new campaign isn’t actually calling farmers and ranchers lazy?

Panera Bread Company All Natural chicken campaign.

Oh, I guess you are… … … That can’t be good for business! Who in the world would approve this message? This idea sounds more like one of those interns who gets pissed off and tries to take down a company via twitter. I mean really, who in the world would approve a marketing campaign that insults the very people that provide every scrap of ingredient that makes your product?

But wait you say, Panera isn’t calling all farmers and ranchers lazy! They are just calling the ones that use antibiotics lazy! I used antibiotics to help a sick calf get better last week, my friends the organic farmers had a cow with pneumonia and they gave that cow antibiotics to make her better. They had to sell her, but she lived. Does that mean we are lazy? Is it lazy to take care of our sick animals?

Panera, you might respond that your menu changes are in response to what your customers have asked for. If that’s the case, why are you only zeroing in on your poultry ingredients, why not the roast beef and bacon? By reading your menu I see the bacon is applewood smoked but was it allowed to roam free and forage for it’s food in it’s pre bacon state? Does your roast beef come from fluffy cows?

We’ll ignore that fact that if you checked the purses and glove boxes of the folks that stopped in your stores for lunch you would find a Walgreens worth of pharmaceuticals that would keep Brett Favre circa 1995, Lindsay Lohan, the ghosts of Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse and Elvis feeling reallllll nice. After all, this isn’t about the people, it’s about the chickens! If you are in fact responding to your customer’s wants, why isn’t your chicken also “free range” or “cage free“?  I bet if you asked the same customers that wanted the “all natural and antibiotic free” chicken how they wanted their pre Frontegra Chicken Sandwich to be housed they would have an opinion and you could add even more labels, length and description to your menu!

Today we got two lunches and paid almost $20 for them. Our lunches were tasty although one could argue that paying $20 for two sandwiches, a salad and a lemonade rather than making our own sandwich at home for a fraction of the cost is lazy. How much would a Cuban Chicken Panini made with free range, all natural, antibiotic free, certified organic chicken cost? How much are your customers willing to spend on lunch? 

Let’s cut through the BS here Panera. Your new marketing campaign is a horrible idea. If you want to promote something that you think sets you apart from the crowd, this isn’t the way to do it. Biting the hand that very literally feeds you isn’t going to work out well for your company. Slapping some labels on your poultry products isn’t meeting customer demands, it’s creating fear over food and that’s not cool. My friend Janeal is a P.H.D. Meat Scientist and a Mom, she broke down the whole antibiotics in meat thing quite a while ago, you should read what she had to say in this post.

You’ve lost a customer, I doubt that I am the only one. Is that how you envisioned your new marketing plan to work?

Very sincerely,


UPDATE- Click here to view Panera’s response. 

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192 thoughts on “Dear Panera Bread Company.

  1. Mara Budde says:

    Great article! You are now making me feel really bad about our NAMA marketing campaign…

    • Mara Budde says:

      Although ours was still better than Panera’s. We didn’t bash our farmers, we helped them.

      • Samantha says:

        What was your NAMA product? I’m in the chapter at NMSU – we just did a feed supplement to help dairy cattle handle heat stress!

      • Brianna says:

        We totes helped the farmers 8). UW-Madison Samantha!

      • Gary says:

        Professionalfarmer, Hormones are routinely given as shots to cows. Reproductive hormones and rBST growth hormones. Food is your bodies fuel and Hippocrates said, “let food be your medicine”. So how the animal is raised and the feed it gets does contribute to the nutrient profile of the meat, Grass fed vs. grain fed for instance. My brother had a dairy and bought a few chickens and a rooster. They lived completely free. They were the healthiest chickens I have ever seen and multiplied rapidly. He would have to catch some from time to time and sell them at the flea market where Hispanic and Asian people would pay $10 dollars a bird. By the way, I would take home some of the eggs once in awhile and they were delicious with bright orange yolks. As for pigs living outside what about the wild pigs that are multiplying everywhere quite rapidly and are becoming pests because there are so many. Have you ever heard of Joel Salatin. Read about his farm on his website He will show you how it should be done with chickens,cattle and pigs.There has to be a better way!!

    • emilie says:

      ORGANIC meats would be a wonderful addition to any restaurant menu. The words ALL NATURAL do not mean anything when it comes to animal products. ALL MEAT IS ALL NATURAL(if it’s not preserved, ie: nitrates etc). Company’s really think that that the consumer is stupid and doesn’t really care, they just want something to FEEL good about. If people cared what they are eating they would ask if these chickens receive hormones via feed(I bet they do, and we feed them to our children and wonder why they have so many health problems). ALSO people that know chickens would also know that the “buzz words” they use on chicken products are actually not a good thing! “Cage Free”= the chickens are allowed to peck each-other to death due to overcrowding. “Free Range”= the chickens have ACCESS to the outdoors for a few hours a day, but typically do not go out. And my person favorite “Vegetarian Fed”…seriously?? Chickens NEED meat in their diet. THE ONLY WAY TO EAT HEALTHY ANIMAL PRODUCTS IS ORGANIC!! Check the labels for yourself, organic products have much better macro nutrient numbers! I wish the general population wasn’t so dense!

      • dairycarrie says:

        Emilie, I am not at all against Organic farmers or practices. If that’s what you choose, go for it. That being said, you have some of your facts wrong here. NO chicken is fed hormones, it’s not allowed. I also would disagree very much that the only way to eat healthy animal products is to eat organic. My cows are very healthy and they are not organic.

      • professionalfarmer says:

        I think your a little confused for thinking that kids are sick because of the food they eat. Kids are unhealthy because the PARENTS don’t teach them good eating habits. I have pigs and they are not organic and hormones are illegal to put in animal feed. Antibotics are given so the animal is healthy but most importantly the WHOLE HERD IS HEALTHY. It costs us producers to give the animal antibiotics and we end up sometimes losing money on that animal sometimes. There is a required waiting period before the animal can be butchered for the medicine to get through there system. Pigs and chickens will get sick outdoors if left there to live there. Do you like to get anything at the store when you walk in? Then lay off us farmers and thank us for feeding you three times a day!!
        P.S Dairycarrie thanks for the article. I will never walk in there to give them business ever.

      • emilie says:

        Dairy Carrie,
        I am not doubting that your animals are healthy, you clearly have a passion for them,and that speaks volumes. I am simply stating that for people who don’t know someone locally that can supply their animal products, organic is a much safer bet…and more nutrient rich;)

      • packpride15 says:

        Hormones are illegal. Educate yourself. Don’t even try to talk about “people who know chickens” cause you do not. You’re an idiot.

      • Rene says:

        @professionalfarmer Pigs and chickens get sick when they’re outside? My pigs and chickens spend most of their time out in a pasture and being sick is practically unheard of for them. The wrongful information coming from both sides here is just amazing.

        • dairycarrie says:

          My chickens are outside often and seem to have chronic colds… the wild birds spread stuff. There’s no way to raise livestock that ensures perfect health.

      • professionalfarmer says:

        @Rene You must not know how to raise an animal then. Pigs and chickens need a dry place for them to get in out of the rain, heat, and snow. To provide effecient results you need them in a concrete lot where they can gain at a good rate. The misinformation coming from me is wrong on your part. I have pigs. My dad was a pig farmer and I compete in my 4H carcass class and have won 4 times in a row and use the correct methods. It’s all about conditions and pigs living outside is no way to treat the animal to provide a quality product. The big producers don’t have pigs outside for a reason. They can finish them in less space, provide a quality product, and protect them from diseases. Dont tell me I don’t know what I am talking about becasue I do know and can raise just about anything you throw at me. I do research about the species before I get it and talk with the seller’s about good handling practices.

      • Gary says:

        professional farmer, I replied to your posts but I accidentally clicked on the wrong reply button, It is above these.

      • Gary says:

        professional farmer and every other farmer who say they will not eat at Panera Bread, all you are really saying is you will not eat the chicken that was raised in a way that is not your way. Maybe you view it as a threat to your way.

        • dairycarrie says:

          Gary, I’ve said this before and I will say it again. This isn’t about Panera offering their customers chicken raised without antibiotics. There are many restaurants doing that. This is about the marketing campaign that Panera created to promote their menu. It’s not OK. I will not support a company that uses fear and misinformation to confuse their customers into believing that their product is better.

      • Gary says:

        dairycarrie, i have asked it before and I will ask it again, does antibiotic free mean 0% levels of residue because if it does not then there are not a lot of food establishments that truly serve 100% zero level antibiotics. Panera Bread would be one of few. I ask these things because the true meaning on labels has become very important to me because I have a child that has gluten intolerance and I have to read labels very carefully!!!!

  2. I tried to post a comment, but it said it couldn’t be posted so I’m trying again.

    BOOM. Well-said, Carrie.

    I reckon I’ll be cutting up that Panera card. I like Panera because they didn’t attack other segments of the food industry — they focused on the good, they let their delicious product speak for itself. Now, I can’t get behind a company that so carelessly attacks the people who do their best to produce safe, affordable food for us.

    Thanks for this, Carrie. I hadn’t known about Panera’s lazy chicken campaign. It’s downright disgraceful.

  3. threecollie says:

    I have a confession to make. Until you pointed out what it was, I couldn’t even figure out that the red and white thing in the ads was a chicken. I thought it was a capsule or pill dressed funny or maybe an egg. That says something about the caliber of this campaign.
    And calling conventional farmers lazy! Yesterday started at 3:45 AM here and we didn’t get out of the barn til after nine….PM. One of the chores done during those hours was giving a sick calf an antibiotic. Good grief!

  4. I haven’t eat at Chipotle for nearly two years for exactly the same reason. I may not make a difference that’s noticed at a company level, but I choose which companies get my money.

  5. bovidiva says:

    Nicely put Carrie. They’ve lost my custom too. Oh, and I was totally confused about the red & white thing too…presumably they’re trying to send the message that all “non-Panera” chickens are walking antibiotic capsules.

  6. k9dogmom says:

    Oh what’s even better is that they also use only chickens fed a vegetarian diet! I giggle every time I read that on a menu–chickens are not vegetarians! They eat anything they can get their beaks into-bugs, mice, their own eggs, etc. Most people are idiots if they believe that feeding an omnivore a herbivore diet is in the best interest of the animal. It’s like asking a lion if he would prefer a stalk of celery with his tomato juice.

  7. A found my way to this blog through a facebook friend, and I’m glad I did. Great post. I think people have forgotten what the original protests were about…that there were certain corporate entities engaging in practices that resulted in lots and lots of sick animals, which were kept alive primarily through antibiotics, which were then passed on to human consumers. That’s very different from avoiding antibiotics at all costs.

    To suggest that animals should not receive antibiotics ever is saying that it’s better to engage in practices that result in lots and lots of sick animals. That’s really sad.

  8. polleydan says:

    Thanks for posting about this. I hadn’t even seen any of this new campaign.

  9. Well done, Carrie!! Consider another consumer done with Panera. You might like this –

  10. We loved Panera before it was cool–way back when it was still St. Louis Bread Company. We’ve watched the new commercials in confusion. And we’re disappointed. They don’t need to market fear to be successful. Just talk about the delicious taste of your goods, Panera. Then deliver that in spades.

  11. This makes me extremely sad. One because I ate Panera for lunch yesterday. Two because I have grown so accustomed to seeing such silly marketing I’ve stopped noticing it. Thanks for the post, Carrie, and for making me reconsider my love of yet another restaurant. Pretty soon I’ll be forced to learn how to cook.

  12. Mike Smith says:

    I guess you can’t fault Panera, Carrie: I think the next best alternative slogan, “Thanks for your money, dumbasses,” was already taken. Just following the example of politicians like Louise Slaughter, who have made a cottage industry out of accusing farmers of using antibiotics as “crutches” because they’re just too damned lazy (or stupid) to wash out their barns and chicken houses.

  13. I guess Panera wanted to be more like Chipotle — disingenuous, deceptive and downright unethical — in their marketing. But I stopped eating there long ago when I realized their food is LOADED with fat and high in calories and sodium. The antibiotic-free Frontega Chicken on Foccacia (sounds healthy, doesn’t it?) is a heart-stopping 850 calories (42% of your daily calories), 38 grams of fat and 1,910 grams of sodium. So if chicken raised with antibiotics is lazy, their chicken is fat and stupid.

    • The last time I went to Panera (ironically to meet with someone to discuss eating disorder advocacy projects) I scoped out their menu beforehand. It’s very rare that food shocks me, but I was shocked at the nutritional value of some of their sandwiches. I mean, I go to Hooters expecting deep-fried chicken dripping in sodium-rich sauces. But that’s not the image Panera has tried to sell, so I was actually a little appalled.

      This campaign just kind of solidifies my distaste. Tasty food, yeah, but hardly as honest as they like to paint it.

    • Anastasia says:

      Yes! I am so tired of this “healthy” marketing of foods that are terrible for you! If Panera actually cared about their customers, they’d produce actually nutritious food without so much unnecessary sodium and fat! A little salt and fat are great but that’s ridiculous.

    • What’s interesting is Panera actually has a healthier line of products (limited fats, sauces & carbs) but it is on a hidden menu rather than advertised. Guess they’d have to lose the bread from their name if they acknowledged that eating that many carbs in a sitting isn’t a good idea. Yes, you can’t find it on a menu, you have to go in knowing what you want by having searched hard to find it.

  14. […] I’m echoing Dairy Carrie’s comment that Panera Bread has lost another customer. She explains things much better than I can. […]

  15. Tonia McBride says:

    Kudos, Carrie. Penera is our favorite office lunch caterer, but as a professional ag-vocate, I was disgusted to see the anti-antibiotic banners when I went to order lunch yesterday. I guess this is a great opportunity for Jimmy Johns.

  16. Sara says:

    I’m no big fan of Panera or any other chain restaurant, but I think what they’re referring to (and I would assume you *know* they’re referring to if you raise any livestock yourself) is the Growth Promoting Antibiotics given at sub therapeutic levels, not the kind we use to treat animals who actually have an infection. They’re given to animals so they grow faster. To animals raised in nasty industrial conditions. I don’t think they’re talking about regular farmers at all. Anyone who has animals and who treats them with antibiotics themselves would also know about the withdrawal period prior to slaughter. I hope. Pretty elementary 4H stuff there.
    So I don’t take it as an insult to real farmers and I’d take it to mean they’ll be sourcing their chickens from responsible farmers who only use antibiotics as necessary, instead of constantly for a purpose other than healing. (Yes, I wouldn’t bet a nickel on *anything* they claim, but that’s how I take it.)
    I think the mistake they make is trying to sell anything edible by using the word “antibiotic” or antibiotic-free.” MMMMMmmm, medical terms and bacteria references sure make me hungry. Not.

    • dairycarrie says:

      Sara, what I see and what consumers see is a company inferring that using antibiotics is the lazy way of raising animals. They are perpetuating food myths.

      • Sara says:

        I hear ya. It doesn’t really make any sense at all. And tell me a lazy way to raise anything! I gotta tell you though, I had a woman this weekend tell me she felt safer eating processed foods than a fresh brown egg. Just too scary for her. Because it’s shell is brown. And someone else said the darker honey made her tea too dark. Tea. Too dark. So, as wretched and stupid as this ad campaign is, there will probably be people who eat it up. No pun intended. If I never eat another bread packed sandwich from any of those bread sandwich chains, I think I could still sleep at night. Rock on, dairycarrie.

      • Sara says:

        I keep reading all these comments and I don’t see the myth getting busted. Everyone is so vaguely pissed off for the sake of being pissed off. I kind of get what people are saying, but it’s all over the board. If you’re trying to explain to the non-farming general public, they’re going to understand even less of what you’re trying to get across. I’ve seen responsible farming on large and small scales, irresponsible farming on large and small scales. I think prophylactic use of antibiotics can be done responsibly and irresponsibly. Bashing farmers for using antibiotics is stupid and preys on the public’s ignorance, yes, but if we want to bust myths about how we raise our animals, it’s going to have to be presented in the positive light of our good intentions toward our animals. If we have nothing to hide or be ashamed of, what’s the problem with explaining how we raise them, even with antibiotics when necessary, even if every single animal has received some antibiotic at some point in their life. Sure, I guess you can raise thousands of “healthy” calves “humanely” in hutches & on milk replacers, etc. & you probably *do* love them, but it’s still not a natural, sustainable way for them to live. Anybody who’s every seen a calf skip knows they’re not meant to be tied to a box. But…it’s a livelihood & it is what it is. (Most) folks who raise their animals that way do try to do it to the best of their ability and as best for the animals as possible. They work their butts off, sleepless nights, long days, heartbreak, sacrificing for the animals. Like somebody said, it’s not going to pay them to have sick, unhealthy and unhappy animals
        Cowartandmore: “If I have to hear one more time that antibiotics are growth promoters, I am going to implode. I was there for those veterinary lectures and at no point was there anything that showed antibiotics produce muscle mass. If it did, there would be amoxicillin capsules in weight rooms across the country instead of anabolic steroids. Do antibiotics given at appropriate times keep an animal healthy instead of failing prey to a bacterial infection? Yes. Does this mean that the animal will grow more. Of course. More of their energy is going to growth (bone, muscle, etc.) instead of fighting an infection.”
        Exactly. The point that bugs people about all the antibiotic use is the idea that the conditions they live in (in close quarters not normal to nature) necessitates more antibiotics. If our kids were packed into daycare 24 hours a day with hundreds of other kids in close quarters, I imagine I’d have to give them prophylactic antibiotics, too. Given enough room and open air and sunlight, I think the need for that would be reduced, right?
        …..I don’t see how anyone can say, though, that large scale agriculture hasn’t contributed something to antibiotic resistant bacteria. Same as over-prescribing antibiotics to humans has contributed. It just kind of is what it is now. We screwed the pooch with our desire for cheap and abundant hamburgers, chicken fingers, and string cheese, and now we’re paying a price.

        • dairycarrie says:

          This specific post is about calling attention to the marketing campaign that Panera has picked to sell their product. The campaign seems to call farmers who use antibiotics lazy. That’s why people are pissed off. Responses may be all over the place because I am not telling anyone what to say or think. We’re all allowed to have our own thoughts.

      • Sara says:

        OK, so they called farmers lazy (in some folk’s opinion.) If that’s what they’re trying to say it’s so laughable that it doesn’t even deserve the dignity of a response. Farmers aren’t lazy. But you have to admit, technically they’re right: It would be a heck of a lot harder to raise animals without having antibiotics available to use. heh.

        What I would love to know: where exactly are those chickens coming from and do they never ever receive any antibiotics or are they just advertising them as such, because, as you said, all chicken is antibiotic free?

        I think you’re right to be mad that they’re disingenuous about that. I’ll quit now I guess 🙂 Cool talking with you!

    • Amy says:

      This consumer saw what Sara saw, not what you see, Carrie. I carefully read your blog post, and I just don’t agree that in this ad campaign, Panera is attempting to slam conventional farming practices. Panera is responding to the eco-suburbia trend wherein non-farmers want humanely sourced meat but don’t know how to ask for it. Antibiotics to treat infections? Absolutely okay – I doubt you’re going to get disagreement from virtually anyone, including consumers and Panera execs. What Panera consumers/execs likely disagree with are the exceptionally appalling, substandard “factory farming” practices of today’s CAFOs. In particular, as Sara points out, the use of growth hormone is contentious with Panera’s key demographic. I wish Panera hadn’t gone the “lazy” route – I wish they’d gone the “greedy” route, because industrialized factory farming aims to produce as much meat per acre as humanly possible – with all thoughts for humane treatment of animals, the environment, or our collective public health right out the proverbial window. This is all in the name of profit, and it is disgraceful.

      Is the new ad campaign poorly conceived? Absolutely yes, because the message is so clearly muddled that we’re debating it. Many people can’t even tell that the bizarre red-and-white thing is a chicken.

      I genuinely believe our focus, if we are interested in advocating for conventional farmers, must be on public education. I love touring people around my small Oregon dairy town, where many people are surprised to see small farms raising regular, healthy, happy cows. These cows are given antibiotics for infections, but they are also fed well, watered, and given space to roam. They are raised using conventional as opposed to organic farming techniques. Again, I doubt if anyone, Panera customers included, would object to eating dairy products from these cows, because, even though they lack the ability to fall into meaningless categories like “all natural,” they are clearly treated well.

      Advocating for small farms should be everyone’s focus, because in the end, the only loser is the CAFO – the winners are farmers who are paid a fair wage for their extremely difficult work, and customers who are eating meat/dairy from animals raised as they should be.

      • dairycarrie says:

        I get what you are saying but please understand what Panera isn’t saying… they aren’t saying that their meat is sourced from small farms. They aren’t saying that their chicken comes from free range or cage free farms. All they are saying is that there wasn’t antibiotics used in the chicken’s lifetime. Think about it like this… how much chicken does Panera use in a month? How many free range chicken farms would it take to meet that demand? How many free range chicken farms are out there that could supply a company like panera? The answer is that there isn’t. Slapping the antibiotic free label on their menu isn’t meeting customer demands. It’s a marketing ploy, plain and simple.

      • Tess says:

        Amy, I wonder if you have ever been on one of these “factory farms”? I work on a dairy calf ranch, we have 3000 calves on milk. This is considered a CAFO, and, from your comment above you would assume we are raising “substandard” calves, using “exceptionally appalling” methods, based only on saving money.

        I assure you, we do not. If we did, we would not be doing ourselves any favors. Calves are the future milk producers for the dairies. Anyone that has any concern for the future of their farm or job is going to give the best care possible to their animals. That being said, it’s not going to help the animals or the people if we go bankrupt.

        On our operation, we save the milk that cannot be used for human consumption, (from the sick cows that are being treated with antibiotics) pasteurize it to kill both the bacteria and antibiotic, mix it with a milk replacer and water and bring it out to the babies. We do this because it is a good use of our resources. We have sick cows, are taking care of them. We have milk that we could just throw away, but we choose to be good stewards and find a way to use it.

        We also just switched to a different company for the milk replacer that we mix in, yes, because it is less expensive. Before doing this, we had it tested by our nutritionist to make sure it was what we were told. Since changing, we are closely monitoring the calves to make sure they do well on it. If we see any negative effects, we will switch back without thinking twice. This, again comes down to using the resources that we have in the best possible way. If we can save money without compromising quality, we will. The most important thing, though is that our baby calves are well taken care of, because it is the right thing to do. It breaks my heart to see a calf that is sick, I love the little guys and love my job on this “factory farm”, which by the way is 100% family owned by a couple of brothers.

      • Amy says:

        Carrie, I absolutely agree that it’s a marketing ploy, plain and simple, and that’s nothing short of “greenwashing” or misleading the consumer into paying more for perception as opposed to reality. That’s why I’m talking about education. I see a large disconnect between today’s family farms, today’s large CAFOs, and urban/suburban-dwelling consumers. The only way to bridge this gap is to educate consumers about why it’s worth paying farmers top dollar to keep operations running in a way that is healthy for us, the animals, and the environment.

        Tess, I have family in the Midwest and have visited these operations I’m referring to as CAFOs. What I’ve seen is appalling, and is mirrored by any Google search for the term CAFO. Animals are crowded onto land that has been utterly destroyed, they can’t move, they are fed low-quality feed, and they are slaughtered inhumanely. It’s heartening to hear that your farm does not run like this, but the problem is that many, many do. Like I said, I live in a small dairy community and here our cows are treated just like you describe. I aim to promote farming using a model like you describe. In some operations, unfortunately, greed and profit are the bottom line. I want to see our economy start rewarding family-run operations like yours by placing a higher value on quality rather than quantity.

      • Mawel says:

        My reaction to Panera EZ chicken, it make sense to more producers and agricultureal scientists or farmers. this is because they are providers to many restaurant such as Panera bread and many others. But it is too tough for many consumers to understand, this is becuse they don’t know more about this kind of chicken so they ask whether its natural or not. Yes it is fair farmers raise their Chicken and turkey in a farm and them to the stores and restaurants as food to feed the nation and make money as well. Fear is that negative side about Ez chicken marketing campaign some people say that it is unsafe due to chemical for raising them. No the Campanies cannot fear to sell their products because they have confident about what they sold to their customers.
        Yes I really belive it is an effective market campaign, this is a big restaurant which sell alot of food Chicken’s sandwitches and Ham to their customers. No I think campaign would not affected anything, Panera bread Company is doing great in its business. Back in the year two thousand and ten I have seen many people come and enjoy their break fast, lunch in a Panera bread company. Also it is okay for a consumer to find it out whether her/his food is organic or inorganic.

    • Donna Young says:

      I’m confused, what is a “real farmer”? I think the ad is an insult to the people who comply with good animal husbandry. Those who raise our animals and produce. They are all “real farmers”.

    • Amy says:

      Exactly. Do commented here really not understand the difference here. Obviously there are factory farms vs natural farms. Panera is trying to source through the later and get off the former. Anyone can see that. The antibiotic banners have to do with insulting the “lazy” corrupt factory farms, not real farmers. Seriously.

  17. carolyncares says:

    One of our daughters is friends with a Panera employee. The daughter refuses to eat there anymore due to the way the employees are treated. This is the final nail in the coffin for me. I’m done with that place.

    Thanks for another well written post!

  18. Carrie, you are the best and your comments are spot-on. I do enjoy Panera, but I was very frustrated when they offered me a $2 coupon if I viewed their new chicken video. I do think they are Chipotle wannabees, but I ditched that restaurant a long time ago. Oh well, I can live without a cinnamon crunch bagel. I just wish we farmers could get a little respect for the hard work we do when it comes to food marketing. Not seeing it.

  19. K. says:

    Carrie, I think you are misinterpreting the advertisement – nowhere does it say that farmers are lazy, or imply that they are. Instead, they are comparing themselves to other companies that source chicken – by choosing to select chicken products that are labeled as being raised without the use of antibiotics, they are choosing not to be lazy and just get the cheapest chicken around (chicken that possibly had antibiotics at some point, hopefully for treatment of disease and used judiciously). This motivation is directly stated on their website under “Antibiotic-free answers”. I would take this more as a jab at other food companies and not an attack on farmers. That said, feel free to “vote with your dollar”, as I wish more people would, to select products that you agree with.

    • dairycarrie says:

      I don’t think I am misunderstanding this at all. They are showing a chicken shaped like a pill and calling that chicken lazy. I think in most people’s minds that equals chicken being raised with antibiotics is the lazy way to do it.

      • Nick says:

        It’s a campaign using fear… Most people do not understand antibiotic usage in farming, but will simply be prompted to Google “is antibiotic free chicken better?”. This begins an education, and education about food and sourcing is a good thing… The fear is being used to promote personal research.

        From my understanding, large farms like Tyson farms use antibiotics so that a huge amount of birds can be raised with minimum loss, and they can be raised in dirty environments so that maintenance is cheaper. This is my understanding however, and I would love to be proven wrong.

        To think of sick calves being saved with antibiotics is not the worry…. To see the entire farm population being fed antibiotics routinely in order to allow survival in shit conditions is the worry.

    • Christine says:

      K, your are correct, Panera did not call out Farmers as being lazy, they called out other restaurant chains as taking the easy and less expensive route!

  20. cowartandmore says:

    If I have to hear one more time that antibiotics are growth promoters, I am going to implode. I was there for those veterinary lectures and at no point was there anything that showed antibiotics produce muscle mass. If it did, there would be amoxicillin capsules in weight rooms across the country instead of anabolic steroids. Do antibiotics given at appropriate times keep an animal healthy instead of failing prey to a bacterial infection? Yes. Does this mean that the animal will grow more. Of course. More of their energy is going to growth (bone, muscle, etc.) instead of fighting an infection.

  21. Liz says:

    Thank you, Carrie! I saw a few of your posts that A Kansas Farm Mom, Nicole Small, had reposted. I am so thankful there are more knowledgeable farm moms than I currently am and that you guys are speaking out. I am farmer’s wife in Nebraska and am excited to continue learning and sharing with my ‘city cousins.’ Also, I have stopped eating at Panera due to this antibiotic-free marketing. I may not know how to explain everything, but I knew better than that.

  22. Abby Swan says:

    I too love animals and am a dairy farmer. I am also a Registered Nurse. We would NEVER think of not treating humans with antibiotics to cure an infectious illness because then we would be sued and called negligent. To not treat an animal with an infectious illness is also considered negligent. I could never stand next to an animal and watch it die when I have an antibiotic in hand to cure that living creature that God created. I will continue to love my animals and care for them as needed, even with antibiotics, if necessary, to keep them alive and healthy. Way to go Carrie for taking this stand. I will support this decision and tell all my friends to avoid Panera and false advertising.

  23. Great post, Carrie! I’ll add to the mix that their radio/audio commercial also states “we asked our farmers for crisper lettuce”, albeit paraphrased. I wonder if their marketing writers ever thought that to get ‘crisper lettuce’ meant that some form of hybridization or (GASP!) GMO tinkering for stronger cell walls might be involved?

    However, I’m wondering, instead of not going to Panera, do we need to organize and designate some calm agvocates to stand outside each Panera location and engage consumers as they enter the stores. We could quietly hand them pamphlets, or at least copies of your blog post, and let them know our knowledge as parties who actually live on farms. Or, we could go in (in a nice way, at non-busy hours) to ask to speak with store management and let them know the fallacies associated with their marketing campaigns, and that we are tired of all food corporations using what we know to be half-truths at best in order to gain sales. With that said, they are becoming nothing more than money-changers in the temple of food preaching false prophecies.

  24. as a parent of a “livestock” kid. This was well said. I won’t be eating at this store! EVER. Thanks to our farmers and ranchers for feeding us everyday.

  25. Marty says:

    I’m guessing “K” who commented above is actually Kristen Fletcher of Cramer-Krasselt, the PR agency Panera hired for this ridiculous campaign. Interesting that she didn’t fess up to who she is when she decided to engage on here. And to top it off, the ad is practically a rip off from Chipotle- I no longer eat at either restaurants.

  26. Anna says:

    Before you go bashing panera about their chicken, please read the article that explains how panera has a “pay it forward” exchange where people can pay extra at the counter so that the less fortunate can eat. Also, there is an entire panera bread cafe with free meals. They only leave jars at the counter and leave it up to their patrons to leave extra money if they know they can afford to. It is good to be aware of the quality of the products you are consuming, but do not say you refuse to patronize a company like panera over some meat!

    • dairycarrie says:

      Actually Anna I’m fairly certain I read that they ended that program. Even still, I’d rather donate food to a local pantry than give Panera my money.

      • Ally says:

        Actually they are opening more of these every year. One opened a few months ago in Boston. Panera works to give back to its community. They donate all of their left over bread at every store, every night to shelters and non-profit groups looking to serve the community.I think it is unfair to make statement like this without proper research, just because you disagree with one thing they are doing, That being said, Panera is also a business where they try to make money and try to follow the national food trends. Many of you say that this is like Chipolte. Well if you would follow the food industry you would notice that this is just one of many food trends that come and go. And it is what a large percentage of customers think they want out of their food now. The media has told people this is what we should be eating. If it were not so then they wouldn’t bother. They tried their hands at lo-carb bread back in the day because that is what the public was screaming for. There is no longer lo-carb bread offered at Panera. And the trend with the chicken may change in the future and so may their product along with it.

    • julie says:

      The Washington D.C. based Panera’s leaves baskets of bread out for anyone to eat free of charge. This business actually does a lot of good.

      It is humorous to me how much controversy is being stirred up over very old news. Panera has been “living consciously” for years now, their antibiotic-free chicken is nothing new. They are not Chipotle “wannabes” because they have been doing the same thing Chipotle has been doing for years, and anyone who has consumed Panera in the past 5 years has supported their business model.

      “All of Chipotle’s chicken is dark meat, and all of Panera’s chicken is white meat. Interestingly, they are the same chickens, split and sold to the two different chains. Therefore you can be happy that at Panera Bread, you also get hormone/antibiotic free chicken. “

      • dairycarrie says:

        The outrage isn’t about the chicken, it’s about the marketing campaign that was just launched. I’m glad they are willing to help out people who can’t afford a meal. That doesn’t absolve them of the anger they have earned from America’s farmers.

  27. jesse says:

    when the world population reaches doubles in the next 50 years, I hope there are enough chickens to go around,,,antibiotics or not, I doubt anyone will be picky when real hunger sets in

  28. […] be just marketing but is an insult to those who keep them in business. No food, no restaurant. This post from Dairy Carrie tells the […]

  29. Megan Brown says:

    Reblogged this on The Beef Jar and commented:
    My friend Dairy Carrie (an awesome advocate and damn fine cattlewoman) wrote this blog today. And it really struck a chord with me – why do they always blame the farmers? Why call us lazy? I hate that. If you know any farmer or rancher, they are anything but lazy. Please read this post, it’s amazing and makes great points. Thanks Carrie for being such a wonderful agvocate!

  30. Amanda Eben says:

    I’m not a chicken farmer, but there are members in my family who are and who would be more than outraged at the Panera marketing campaign! As a pig and cattle farmer myself, looks like I better spread the word to all other farmers; you know the people who provide the best possible care to ensure our animals are being raised safely! Panera’s new marketing program is a huge slap in the face to what we do!
    Thanks Carrie for sticking up for farmers everywhere!

  31. Iloveag says:

    Get’em, Dairy Carrie!! Thank you for being up-front and pro-active! I’m a stronger consumer of Carrie, now non-consumer of Panera.

  32. Monica says:

    I agree with absolutely everything stated in this article. As president of a 4-H club, 8 year equestrian, member of my county’s Junior Far Board, and returning state fair qualifier & placer, I work my butt of with my animals & have so much respect for farmers & other members. I happen to work at this god forsaken restaurant & cannot stand it nor its customers & have found a new job that I will take over once my county fair is over as I have already requested many days off for county fair & horse shows. Panera is shallow & hires what pretentious people want to see: good looking white young girls. Dealing with Corporate is unbearable & rather than working on improving the atmosphere, quality, & experience of Panera, the only “improvements” they institute on the restaurants employees are more tedious, difficult, & time consuming/wasting procedures that do not improve the quality of anything except of their sardonic pleasure. It is miserable to work there. They milk us & our efforts for every ounce of work they can get from minimum wage. We do way more work than to earn minimum wage, especially on sandwich line. I’m accustomed to the hard work FROM MY AGRICULTURAL BACKGROUND. So thanks Panera for calling all of us “lazy farmers” when in fact we are some of THE most hardworking group of people you will never directly come across because you’ll just be sitting on your lazy, selfish, self-absorbed, & greedy butts in your offices discussing how to make employees’ lives more difficult with your ineffective & unnecessary “improvements.” You may not interact with many of us directly , however the food used to make your products, as Carrie stated above, come directly from our labors. Attacking our way of life that supports yours is only going to deservedly strike you down. Enjoy your run while it lasts. Keep campaigning against farmers’ way of life & may you starve in peace. I cannot wait to leave your company .

  33. Shan says:

    Um, I think they are saying the chickens are lazy, not the farmers.

  34. Joanna says:

    Thanks for the post Carrie. The lazy bit really hits home – feeling like a single mom lately with hubby out cropping all day/night!

  35. Isn’t it amazing what companies spend their advertising dollars on? Although, I will say I would never have spent even a second understanding what it all means, lol. Stupid advertising is everywhere, I take no offense to it, because I couldn’t be bothered with it. Ignorant, perhaps. But it is easier!

  36. Caitlin says:

    Always well-said, Carrie! I appreciate how you stick up for what you believe in and stand your ground. Ordering at Panera has always had me leery since they’ve had the “antibiotic-free” label on their menu for some time. Their mac n cheese was my weakness, though. I tried making a Panera-like mac n cheese recipe I found on Pinterest, and I failed. But, I will be trying again! The agriculture industry should continue to raise up restaurants that support farmers and help tell their stories such as Culver’s and McDonald’s.

  37. Caitlin says:

    Always well-said, Carrie! I appreciate how you stick up for what you believe in and stand your ground. Ordering at Panera has always had me leery since they’ve had the “antibiotic-free” label on their menu for some time. Their mac n cheese was my weakness, though. I tried making a Panera-like mac n cheese recipe I found on Pinterest, and I failed. But, I will be trying again! The agriculture industry should continue to raise up restaurants that support farmers and help tell their stories such as Culver’s and McDonald’s.

  38. Wow says:

    Wait. The bacon is applewood smoked?!? That means it would have to be cut and burned? Save the trees!!! Boycott Panera! #sarcasm

  39. Doctorsuis says:

    I just ate my last meal at Panera. I have also refused to eat at Chipotle for years. When they disparage other farmers to promote the choices they provide on their menus it does us all a disservice. I think those in marketing may not know what a hard day’s work is. There have been many days I started loading pigs in the middle of the night – when it is cool – and didn’t leave the barn until late in the afternoon. And all of those hours were on my feet, working physically demanding jobs to care for our animals. It is hard work – with or without antibiotics – and someone like Panera should be grateful for the bounty we have in US agriculture that allows them to be a successful restaurant chain.

  40. Louise Schwendeman says:

    I find this nasty and a little ignorant. Have you not considered that some people cannot eat chicken that has been treated, directly or indirectly through its feed, with antibiotics without having a life threatening allergic reaction?
    I went 10 years without poultry because of this and after repeated tests showing no allergy to poultry I suspected my late onset severe antibiotic allergy might be at fault. When antibiotic free poultry became available most everywhere I tried it, with an Epi-pen and some Benadryl by my side. I have found it safe except for one severe incident I had despite the product being clearly labeled antibiotic free. It turns out that the company who provides it has some tricky wording on their website that suggested they might not treat their birds directly but that did not exclude them getting treated food.
    I am extremely careful about what I buy and, so far, have not braved having chicken in public, at Panera, though I am tempted, or any place at all in maybe 15 years.
    I have no objection to treating sick animals, but that should be the exception and they should be labeled accordingly. Some people have no problem. Fine. They can enjoy their lower food bills. Some object to “overuse” of antibiotics for other reasons. Fine. That is their business. For those who would rather be safe than sorry, kindly step off.

    • dairycarrie says:

      I am all about choice and I said in this post that the issue here is not the choice to use what they are labeling as antibiotic free. The issue is they inferring that farmers who do use antibiotics are lazy. That’s what has people upset.

  41. chadbrick says:

    “My friend Janeal is a P.H.D. Meat Scientist and a Mom, she broke down the whole antibiotics in meat thing quite a while ago, you should read what she had to say in this post”

    Your friend Janeal deceptively puts the reasons in reverse order. Chickens are force-fed loads of antibiotics because it makes them grow faster. This translates into profits. If this were not the case, they would not be fed antibiotics, pure and simple. They are also blanketed with antibiotics because disease is so rampant in the filthy little cages they are raised in. Only a small fraction of the antibiotics given to our farm animals have to do with specific illnesses of individual animals, and no one objects to this. Janeal should re-write that post, and put the reasons in their proper order.

    Janeal then deceptively dismissed the massive antibiotic resistance problem that the above overuse causes by saying, well, that the superbugs are everywhere, what can we do other than scrub more? That’s from a fellow PhD? Seriously.

  42. I love this, someone not taking something at face value and actually thinking!

    Most people would read that and just believe it.

  43. Elizabeth H says:

    Actually I saw the messaging as Panera comparing themselves to their competitors. It is tougher to find products with certain attributes–no matter what the industry or supply chain. I just can’t imagine Panera meant to offend the very people they rely on for products.
    But now you have me thinking… I grew up in farm country, so I know and appreciate the hard work of growers, producer and ranchers. Now I’m a happy city girl. Who appreciates lunch at Panera. (And in full disclosure, also works in marketing.)
    So, can someone clarify whether it IS easier (faster, less expensive?) to find chickens that have been raised with antibiotics (not the ones needed for illness obviously)? IS it easier to raise chickens with antibiotics? And it would be good to hear from producers who work with Panera. How do the company reps work with their farmers? I just must believe that this can be cleared up with some dialogue. Perhaps some apologies. Certainly some explanations.
    Thanks for making me think. That’s always good.

    • Jess Quinn says:

      The only uses for antibiotics in livestock are for therapy (sickness) and for prevention of sickness. Most farms have phased out the prevention sector due to all the hype ans we typically only treat sickness with the medications. Panera’s claim to be antibiotic free is false advertisement and this is not a claim supported by the USDA. I am a quality control coordinator and I work with the USDA to create claims, labels and logos for local farms. “Antibiotic free” is a claim that is automatically turned down by the USDA because antibiotics are naturally made within the animal. “No antibiotics added” would be more feasible, however all USDA poultry meat should be have no added antibiotics because of the strict withdrawal time regulations. This means that antibiotics cannot be given for a certain amount of time before slaughter to ensure that the medications are not in the meat anymore. You could say that it is “easier” in one sense to use antibiotics and in another sense is is more labor intensive. By treating sick animals with antibiotics, you have a much lower mortality rate but you have to follow strict guidelines in order to do so. I also worked for a farrowing operation in which we would give antibiotics to an animal that had a sickness or infection that could cost her life. We would only give these for 1-3 days depending on the type of antibiotic and we had to record each time it was given to ensure that the animal was not slaughtered before the withdrawal time was up.

  44. […] read, then re-read Dairy Carrie’s blog about Panera Bread Company’s new marketing campaign. I wanted to see what all the fuss was […]

  45. Laura says:

    Good job Carrie, I posted this on Panera’s Facebook page, even though it seems they are well aware of your blog, it was deleted immediately. I wish they would move as fast on deleting their posts about lazy farmers like they said they were going to. I’m sad they have done this; I just had my parents bring me one of their salads for dinner Sunday night while my lazy behind was fixing a broken irrigation pipe. Never again!

  46. Jordan says:

    Another corrupt company.
    Whoopty-doo, I’m shocked.
    People are dying of starvation, let’s put our energy and focus towards that.

  47. […] first was a blog post by Dairy Carrie on the new marketing campaign of Panera […]

  48. Reblogged this on Nyc Fit Food and Fashion! and commented:
    I love Dairy Carrie and love reading her blog! Her is a great post she wrote in response to Panera Breads new marketing campaign.

  49. Donna says:

    I am not sure that Panera is attacking hard-working farmers here. The real farmers in this country (in my opinion) do not work for big-business ruled by corporate america. The factory farming practices in this Country are inhumane. I don’t think anyone is blaming Farmers who use anti-biotics to treat sick livestock. What I have learned over time is that large farming industries categorically feed all livestock antibiotics which end up in our meat products thus diminishing our bodies ability to naturally fight infection and reduces the likelihood that we will be able to control illness with antibiotics. This along with the hormones in our food and the types of “food” given to livestock at some “farms” across the country is unhealthful to the families eating them. I feel that Corporate America has done their job of meeting the large demand for meat and dairy in this Country and have found ways to produce more product at the expense of the health and welfare of both the animals and the consumers. Factory farming practices in this country need to change.

    If I was able to buy my food from a local farm that locally processes their meat I happily would. Unfortunately it is cheaper to buy organic meats from the grocery stores than to buy it locally. The farmers in my area that are producing a healthy, quality product are the people I want to buy my meat from. I feel that, in most cases, the animals are more humanely treated, are fed a proper diet and in turn provide a quality meat product to consumers. I agree that the terms “all-natural” and “antibiotic-free” don’t mean much to me…I would much prefer to buy my lunch at a restaurant that provides meat and dairy from local sources. I am just not sure that Panera should be attacked over this. I think we should spend more time questioning the corporations that are in control of how the meat industry is run….

    • dairycarrie says:

      Donna, a lot of people seem to agree that we are being attacked by Panera. I think you need to talk to some farmers about the “facts” you are stating here. You say that you have learned that large farms feed antibiotics feed all livestock antibiotics and that’s simply not true. Please, take the time to talk to farmers and get a more balanced perspective of the industry.

    • Jess Quinn says:

      First thing–>It is illegal to give hormones to food animals.
      Second–>Antibiotics have certain withdrawal times and the meat is tested by the USDA for antibiotic residues. We cannot feed high levels of antibiotics because the use of these medications are highly regulated.
      Third–>The huge majority of antibiotics given to livestock are strains of antibiotics that are not used in humans ever so they would not contribute to human antibiotic resistance.
      I would be glad to talk to you in more detail about this if you would like.

      • Gary says:

        It is not illegal to give hormones to cattle and is done all the time with no withdraw time. Rbst, for increasing milk production and reproductive hormones used in synchronized breeding programs.

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