Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg

Subway Follows Rivals in Ditching Antibiotics After 'Fresh' Image Suffers

Subway Restaurants, the sandwich chain struggling to regain its image as the go-to healthy fast-food option, will switch to meat raised without antibiotics in the U.S. beginning early next year.

Subway’s move, which will be phased in over the next decade, follows similar announcements from fast-food rivals, which are scrambling to adjust to a shift in consumer tastes. McDonald’s said in March it would stop serving chicken raised with some antibiotics during the next two years. Yum! Brands Inc.’s Taco Bell and Panera Bread Co., meanwhile, announced the removal of artificial colors and preservatives from their menus.

Subway, which used its “Eat Fresh” slogan to fuel growth in recent years, has had a tumultuous few months. The chain of about 27,000 U.S. locations has suffered from declining sales and increased competition from newer chains like Panera and Jimmy John’s. The company has also been battered by a scandal involving its former spokesman Jared Fogle, as well as the death of chief executive officer and founder Fred DeLuca in September.

“Today’s consumer is ever more mindful of what they are eating, and we’ve been making changes to address what they are looking for," the company said in a statement.

Subway said it would being serving chicken raised without antibiotics across the U.S. in March 2016. Turkey raised to those standards will also be introduced next year, with full transition to be completed by the end of 2019. Beef and pork raised without antibiotics will be in Subway restaurants by 2025.

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