Jim Perdue stopped by Creative Loafing's office Thursday morning to talk about — you guessed it — chicken. You might recognize the blue-eyed chairman and CEO of Perdue from his TV commercials.
When I asked followers on Twitter what questions to ask Perdue, people seemed to be most curious about what chemicals go into raising these meaty chickens we see at the grocery store nowadays. I guess these concerns are expected in this consumer culture — people are more and more conscious of what they put in their mouths. Organic this, free range that. When it comes to poultry, people are concerned about hormones, antibiotics, and steroids.
Well, Perdue was proud to announce that Perdue is the first and only chicken company to receive the premier third-party stamp of approval, the USDA Process Verified Seal, which you can now find on your Perdue chicken. As of now, no other chicken company can claim a USDA seal on their packaging, according to Perdue.
"The important thing was to have some sort of third party auditing and that's what the USDA has provided," said Perdue.
The process to achieve the seal took a total of three to four years. What does this seal mean? According to Julie DeYoung, Perdue's PR consultant, the USDA seal is "an added level of assurance for consumers" letting them know that the chicken they are buying is fresh, all-natural chicken that has been verified to have been fed an all-vegetarian diet with no animal by-products, raised cage-free and humanely raised. No antibiotics for accelerated growth, hormones, or steroids are used in their products, according to the company's Web site. Consumers can also reportedly count on the special Perdue breed of chicken to also be extra meaty and tender.
Despite the added costs of raising USDA Process Verified chicken, Perdue's pricing will remain the same. "It's a more expensive diet because when you have to replace animal by products with soybean meal, it's more expensive, but the pricing is not going to change," said Perdue.
"Our pricing is not changing at all ...Truthfully long term, I mean, this is our business, we want to be here in 10 years, in 20 years, in 30 years. Also we want to continuously improve the product. That's what this is all about. We want to make a better product."
What the grocery stores want to charge though, Perdue said, is out of his company's control.
Now that Perdue chicken is process verified, they want to see your best processes in preparing chicken. They've launched a contest in North Carolina looking for the best ways to cook chicken. Submit a video demonstrating your best recipe or techniques for preparing or serving Perdue chicken at www.PerdueVerifiablyGood.com. A panel of judges (including myself) will be picking the finalists.
Contest details: Contest ends March 12, 2010. Entry only open to legal N.C. residents who are at least 18 years old. The grand prize is $500 cash plus a year's supply of chicken. See Web site for more details. Get cookin'!