Proving “What’s inside matters most,” the Pickleman’s Gourmet Cafe chain has announced its No Antibiotics Ever policy for the chicken it serves. It is the first quick-service sandwich franchise to commit to the most difficult designation to achieve for keeping antibiotics out of our food and providing farm animals a better life.
“After 16 years in the industry, I wanted to fix what was broken,” says Doug Stritzel, Founder and CEO of Pickleman’s Gourmet Cafe. “So many hidden ingredients are hazardous to your health, from preservatives, to fillers, to antibiotics.”
Pickleman’s is the rapidly growing sandwich chain known for its toasted sandwiches, artisan soups, fresh salads, and thin crust pizzas. It was founded in 2005 by Stritzel after he spent 16 years growing some of the biggest names in the QSR industry. Now Pickleman’s franchise locations outperform bigger, older brands regularly.
“Shell to Table with no antibiotics, means the chickens are raised in better conditions – with more space, higher quality food, and less stress ensuring they don’t get sick,” says Hayley Sohn, Pickleman’s Head of Nutritional Research & Development. “Not only do they live a better life and avoid contributing to antibiotic-resistant ‘superbugs,’ they become more nutrient-dense as food, and just taste better.”
The language around the use of antibiotics can be confusing to the public and can be misleading – just as the food designations “natural” and “organic” have been fought over in the past. Many sandwich QSR chains claim their chicken is “raised without antibiotics,” which is a much lower level of care and protection than No Antibiotics Ever.
Chickens labeled as Raised Without Antibiotics actually do get antibiotics both from their mother, and large doses while they are still in shell. In contrast, No Antibiotics Ever is a USDA enforced program subject to audit, ensuring that the chicken never comes in contact with antibiotics: they are not administered to the mother or while the chicken is still in the shell, and never throughout the bird’s lifespan.
“This is just one way that Pickleman’s is serving food from farms, not from factories,” adds Stritzel. “We are adding to the list of products made fresh in-house every day and continuing to work with clean label sources, the way food was meant to be.”
The No Antibiotics Ever chicken that Pickleman’s sources is part of why the chain’s Chicken Salad is such a hit – and it’s made fresh in store every day, not in an offsite factory.
“Our chicken salad is made from 7 whole food ingredients; it doesn’t contain chemicals like E150C (ammonia carame)], and the chicken’s quality and texture far outweighs anything that comes from a can,” says Sohn. “It tastes homemade because it is.”