Is the label verified?
Yes
Is the meaning of the label consistent?
Yes
Are the label standards publicly available?
No
Is information about the organization publicly available?
N/A
Is the organization free from conflict of interest?
No
Was the label developed with broad public and industry input?
No

"No growth-promoting antibiotics - antibiotics responsibly used only when needed for treatment or prevention of illness"

This label can be found on: Turkey

The claim is used by Cargill, a privately held company, on two of its turkey brands: Shady Brook Farms and Honeysuckle White. Cargill’s claim is verified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Process Verified Program.

 

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What this label means 

The label means that the turkeys were not given antibiotics for growth promotion. The label claim states that antibiotics can still be used for preventing disease, which is permitted by the FDA and is common industry practice.

In 2013, the FDA issued guidance encouraging all pharmaceutical companies that sell antibiotics  for use in animal agriculture to discontinue selling medically important antibiotics specifically for the purpose of growth promotion. As of January 2017, the FDA reported that all companies have voluntarily complied, and as a result, medically important antibiotics will no longer be used be used for growth promotion. However, the FDA still allows antibiotics that are not  medically important to be added to animal feed for growth promotion, such as bacitracin. This label claims that no antibiotics are used for growth promotion, which slightly exceeds the industry norm of not using medically important antibiotics for growth promotion.  

Why it matters 

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How meaningful is this label? 

Not meaningful.

While the labeling claim is verified, it is not meaningful because it almost entirely reflects the current norm in turkey production and therefore adds little value. In fact, the claim may be misleading, since an antibiotic used for disease prevention, which the label allows, may also act as a growth promoter, which the label says it does not allow.

Raising farm animals without antibiotics is an important practice to combat the public health crisis of antibiotic resistance. But this “no growth-promoting antibiotics” label does not mean that the animals were raised without antibiotics. To preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics, the industry should phase out the use of antibiotics for disease prevention as well, and focus instead on preventing disease by raising animals in living conditions that promote health and animal welfare.

This “no growth-promoting antibiotics” claim muddles the marketplace with a misleading label. Consumers may be led to believe that they are supporting farmers who are going the extra mile to protect the continued effectiveness of antibiotics when they choose this turkey product over another. Or they may think that there is little difference between a turkey product with this label and one that is certified organic (organic standards prohibit all antibiotics in poultry after day 1 of a chick’s life) or a label that says “no antibiotics administered.”

For assurance that turkeys were raised without antibiotics for growth promotion AND disease prevention, look for the following labels on turkey instead:

USDA Process Verified
USDA Organic
Animal Welfare Approved
Certified Humane by Humane Farm Animal Care (HFAC)
Global Animal Partnership (GAP) Step 1-5+

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"No growth-promoting antibiotics - antibiotics responsibly used only when needed for treatment or prevention of illness"

Is the label verified?
Is the meaning of the label consistent?
Are the label standards publicly available?
Is information about the organization publicly available?
Is the organization free from conflict of interest?
Was the label developed with broad public and industry input?