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June 30, 2008

Antibiotics for Chickens

Chick_egg When is an antibiotic not an antibiotic?  When it is administered "in ovo" according to Tyson Foods.

Earlier this month, Tyson Foods filed suit against USDA over the agency's ruling about Tyson's "Raised Without Antibiotics That Impact Human Antibiotic Resistance" label.  USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service has found the label misleading because Tyson administered antibiotics to chicks while still in the egg.

FSIS originally gave Tyson until June 18 to stop using the label.  (FSIS statement, June 3, 2008.)  According to the Wall Street Journal, however, the deadline has been extended to July 9.

Since Tyson seems to be challenging the government's interpretation of the word "raised" I was curious about where the word is used -- statute? regulation?  So I poked around a bit.  Here's what I learned.

"Raised without antibiotics" is one of the commonly aproved animal production claims, provided the producer can demonstrate its validity.  Here's an excerpt from the FSIS guidance on animal production claims:

Commonly Approved Claims:

RAISED WITHOUT ADDED HORMONES, RAISED WITHOUT ANTIBIOTICS, NOT FED ANIMAL BY-PRODUCTS, FREE RANGE, FREE ROAMING, GRASS FED, CORN FED, GRAIN FED, CERTIFIED ORGANIC (BY CERTIFYING ENTITY).

Claims about the non-use of animal by-products have become popular lately due to fears about BSE.

UNAPPROVABLE CLAIMS:
ANTIBIOTIC FREE, HORMONE FREE, RESIDUE FREE, RESIDUE TESTED, NATURALLY RAISED, NATURALLY GROWN, DRUG FREE, CHEMICAL FREE, ORGANIC, ORGANICALLY RAISED.

Hormones are only approved for use in beef cattle and lamb production. They are not approved for use in poultry, hogs, veal calves or exotic, non-amenable species. Therefore, the phrase "no hormones administered" on a chicken label cannot be approved unless it is followed (directly) with the statement "Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones in poultry."

USDA can withhold approval of a label if it finds it misleading. Section 457(d) of the Poultry Products Inspection Act (U.S. Code,Title 21, Ch. 10, Sec. 457(d) ) provides in part:

If the Secretary has reason to believe that any marking or labeling or the size or form of any container in use or proposed for use with respect to any article subject to this chapter is false or misleading in any particular, he may direct that such use be withheld unless the marking, labeling, or container is modified in such manner as he may prescribe so that it will not be false or misleading.

June 30, 2008 in Farming, Labeling | Permalink

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Comments

An antibiotic is an antibiotic no matter when it's administered. So this filed suit doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

Posted by: Hay Tech | Jul 29, 2008 1:31:27 PM

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