Tyson ‘raised without antibiotics’ chicken under scrutiny
December 13, 2007
Tyson Foods Inc. can no longer label its products as “raised without antibiotics,” according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
According to the USDA, Tyson launched a $70 million advertising and promotion campaign in June to boost the sales of its products. Meanwhile, Tyson Foods said that it stands by the truthfulness of its product labels and remains fully committed to its “Raised without Antibiotics” chicken program. The company added that it expects no disruption in service to its customers.
Tyson said in a statement that it is in discussions with USDA officials to find a way to resolve the matter. The company said it had submitted modified labelling which it hoped would be approved soon. “The additional wording states no ingredients have been used that could create antibiotic resistance in humans,” Tyson said.
Tyson had previously received approval from the USDA in May to label its products as ‘raised without antibiotics’. However, Tyson’s poultry-feed formulations still contain ionophores, which are antibiotics according to the FSIS policy.
Tyson said in a statement, “We do not believe ionophores are antibiotics. FDA is the agency Congress has authorised to regulate animal drugs and it specifically excludes ionophores from the list of animal drugs deemed as antibiotics.”
Tyson noted that ionophores are in a different class than antibiotics and are recognized and approved by the federal government as a safe feed ingredient. The company added that ionophores are permitted in chicken feed as a preventive measure against coccidiosis, an intestinal illness. Tyson stated that ionophores remain in the intestinal tract of the animal and do not carry over into meat consumed by humans.
Tyson reportedly has 45 days to remove the labels from its products or stop using ionophores.