Perdue Farms says it has ditched the common practice of injecting antibiotics into eggs that are just about to hatch. And public health advocates are cheering. They've been campaigning against the widespread use of antibiotics in agriculture, arguing that it's adding to the plague of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
This particular use of antibiotics is ubiquitous but little-known. It happens at hatcheries, which lie at the heart of large-scale chicken production.
Hatcheries don't get a lot of attention. From the outside, Perdue's hatchery in Salisbury, Md., is just a simple, one-story cinder block building. What goes on inside, though, is amazing.
More than 1 million eggs arrive here every week from breeding farms a few hours away in West Virginia. Unlike the eggs you buy in the store, these eggs are fertilized; there are embryos inside.