Expert Spotlight: 5 Questions with Gina Asoudegan, Applegate

We’ve said it countless times -- it’s more important than ever for consumers to support farmers and ranchers who raise their livestock without antibiotic overuse. One simple way people can help fight antibiotic resistance is by voting with your fork and purchasing meat raised without antibiotic misuse. That’s why we love the opportunity to spotlight companies and farmers who are committed to raising livestock without antibiotics (as well as those who use antibiotics responsibly). One such company is Applegate - a natural and organic meat company that makes hot dogs, bacon, deli meat, sausage and corn dogs, among other things!

Applegate was founded 30 years ago with the mission of Changing The Meat We Eat.® These food rebels with a cause have set the industry standards - whether its reducing antibiotic use in the food supply to insisting on strong animal welfare standards to not allowing GMOs in animal feed. We’re proud to have partnered with Applegate over the years to raise awareness about the importance of antibiotic stewardship and fighting antibiotic resistance.

Gina Asoudegan is the Vice President of Mission and Innovation Strategy for Applegate and answers this month’s edition of Five Questions.

1. Tell us a little bit about Applegate. What products do you produce? How many farmers are in your network?

At Applegate, we like to say that we make clean, crave-able food – so better versions of the classics people love to eat. We make more than 140 products including chicken nuggets, bacon, deli meat and hot dogs. We even have a fantastic line of Italian dry-cured items like prosciutto, Genoa salami and pepperoni. We source from a network of more than 2,000 farms, which span four species: pork, turkey, chicken and beef.

2. Can you tell us a little about the farmers? Who are they?

We have farmers and ranchers in the United States, Canada and Australia (where all of our beef comes from). I’ve met several of them, and I can say that the one thing they have in common is that they are doing what they do because they love it. It’s not easy work, but it is fulfilling.

3. Your slogan is “Changing the Meat We Eat” and one key part of that is your commitment to using zero antibiotics. How did this policy come to be? How else are you helping elevate animal welfare standards

Our antibiotics policy is rooted in animal welfare, since the misuse of antibiotics often compensates for crowded living conditions for animals. And through great work of people and groups like ARAC Director Dr. Lance Price and Pew, Applegate learned more about the impending crisis of antibiotic resistance. That’s when we knew we could work together to make a difference. Applegate is always looking to elevate standards. At this time, we’re working to make sure 100 percent of the animals we source are third-party certified for higher animal welfare standards, and we’re also committing to getting more animals on pasture.

4. We’ve worked with you over the years to help tell Applegate’s story. What do you think companies like Applegate can do to help address the global public health threat of antibiotic resistance?

The best thing we can do is continue to educate people about the threat. So many still equate antibiotic use on farms with “antibiotics in meat,” and that’s not the issue. Applegate helped to produce the documentary “Resistance,” a few years back, and it’s now available on Netflix. And after we educate, we need to activate those consumers to challenge the status quo and ask other companies about their antibiotics policies.  We’ve already seen the shift in the marketplace with companies like Chick-fil-A and McDonald’s making changes on chicken. Now we need to move on to pork and beef.

5. Applegate social is outstanding! We’re always hungry looking at your various products and the recipes shared. Our colleagues are torn on which is the best! What’s your most popular product? Which is your favorite recipe?!

Our deli meats are our biggest seller, followed by bacon and hot dogs. I really love our recipes for hot dog toppings – they are unique and really dress up our 100 percent grass-fed beef “cleaner wieners.”