USDA rescinds raised without antibiotics label on Tyson chicken

Published on July 01, 2008
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The Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service has rescinded a label claiming that Tyson chickens are "raised without antibiotics that impact human antibiotic resistance."

The decision followed shortly after a U.S. district court ruled that Tyson Foods must cease the "raised without antibiotics" marketing campaign.

In May 2007, FSIS approved an unqualified "raised without antibiotics" label. The agency withdrew approval later that year after reconsidering the fact that Tyson's chicken feed includes ionophores—antimicrobials that are not in use in human medicine. The agency then approved the qualified label, "raised without antibiotics that impact antibiotic resistance in humans."

In early June, FSIS withdrew approval of the qualified label after finding that Tyson routinely used the antimicrobial gentamicin to prevent illness and death in chicks. The agency, along with the USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service, is initiating a public process to review policies on antimicrobial claims for poultry.

The AVMA Executive Board approved a policy in April, largely in response to the Tyson case, on "Truthful and non-misleading human food labeling." The policy supports labels on animal products that provide clear, unambiguous, scientifically valid, and verifiable claims regarding production practices.