Antibiotic Label Claims

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April 6, 2021 - Author: , & ,

Antibiotics are substances that are produced by one microorganism and have the ability to kill or inhibit the growth or multiplication of other microorganisms. As with humans, antibiotics are used to treat animals believed to have bacterial infections. Withholding treatment of sick animals may result in poor animal welfare.

Raised without Antibiotics

Also labeled as "No Antibiotics Added" or "No Antibiotics Ever". According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), these claims are appropriate when animals are raised without any antibiotics from birth to slaughter. The terms may be used on meat and poultry labels when the producer provides sufficient documentation showing that the animals were raised without antibiotics. The term “antibiotic free” is not a USDA allowable label because testing technology limitations cannot confirm if the animal ever received antibiotics.

No Sub-Therapeutic Antibiotics

This label claim is added information that ensures consumers understand that animals are not given antibiotics on a daily basis but may have been given antibiotics in the case of an illness.

Antibiotic Use

Animals treated with antibiotics must undergo a withdrawal period so that antibiotics are eliminated from an animal's system before meat or milk can be sold for food.

  • In the case of milk, every single truck load of milk is tested for antibiotics. Milk found positive for antibiotic residue is discarded and the offending farm pays for the entire truck load of milk.
  • In the case of meat, animals are randomly or specifically tested for antibiotic residues by USDA inspectors.

Most scientists agree that over-use of antibiotics in food-producing animals and humans is a problem because drug-resistant bacteria (ones that have an ability to survive despite exposure to the drug) can risk public health. Medically important drugs for human health are no longer used for growth promotion or feed efficiency in the U.S.

Farmers Commitment

Farmers take pride in caring for their animals and follow best practices when they do need to use antibiotics.

  • Work closely with veterinarian to determine any necessary antibiotic use
  • Avoid using antibiotics that are important to human medicine
  • Treat the fewest number of animals possible
  • Use as narrow of a spectrum of antimicrobials as possible
  • Strictly adhere to withdrawal times
  • Keep records of antimicrobials use
  • Properly handle and dispose of all animal health products to protect the environment

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Tags: agriculture, animal agriculture, breakfast on the farm, consumer info, food label claims, food labels, labeling and regulation, msu extension


Authors

Mary Dunckel

Mary Dunckel
dunckelm@msu.edu

Jeannine Schweihofer

Jeannine Schweihofer
grobbelj@msu.edu

Ashley Kuschel

Ashley Kuschel
kuschela@msu.edu

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