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Tyson Concedes Defeat and Relabels Chicken

by 5m Editor
21 December 2007, at 10:44am

US - Tyson Foods, Inc. and the USDA have agreed to new and more informative labeling for the company’s Raised Without Antibiotics chicken program, Tyson officials reported today.

After six weeks of consumer research and discussion, Tyson and USDA have approved the following language on the company’s product labels: “Chicken Raised Without Antibiotics that impact antibiotic resistance in humans.”

“We once again turned to consumers for their guidance and they told us this label more clearly conveys our chickens are not raised with any feed ingredients that could contribute to antibiotic resistance in humans,” said Dave Hogberg, senior vice president of Consumer Products Marketing for Tyson Foods. “The new labeling enables us to continue producing Raised Without Antibiotics chicken, which nine out of ten consumers say is important to them.”

“We applaud Tyson for working with USDA to find a more meaningful way to explain the public health value of not using drugs that contribute to increased antibiotic resistance,” said Carol Tucker Foreman, distinguished fellow at Consumer Federation of America’s Food Policy Institute and former assistant Secretary of Agriculture. “We’re especially pleased the company and the government chose a new label that research showed was understood by most consumers.”

Tyson will be phasing in the new labeling language on its packages over the next several months. The company will also post additional information about the label on its website, www.tyson.com.

Tyson began seeking modified wording in November, after USDA notified the company that its original label had been mistakenly approved by the government since the company uses ionophores as an ingredient in its chicken feed. Tyson’s practice of using ionophores was noted in its original label application, which was approved by USDA in May 2007. However, USDA officials subsequently withdrew their approval of the label in November, telling Tyson they consider ionophores a form of antibiotics.

Tyson currently plans to continue using ionophores, which are recognized and approved by the federal government as a safe feed ingredient. They are used as a preventive measure against an intestinal illness in chicken, but are not used in human medicine and do not contribute to the development of antibiotic resistance to important human drugs.

For details of USDA's "Labeling Guidance For Raised Without Antibiotic Claims and the Use of Ionophores," please go to the following USDA website:

http://www.fsis.usda.gov/regulations_&_policies/Use_of_Ionophores/index.asp

Further Reading

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5m Editor