Tyson, USDA Agree on Label for Raised Without Antibiotics Chicken

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Friday, Dec. 21, 2007 10:17 am  

Tyson Foods Inc. of Springdale and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have agreed to new labeling for the company's Raised Without Antibiotics chicken program.

Tyson built a $70 million advertising campaign last June around the fact that it would no longer use antibiotics to raise chicken that is sold fresh in stores.

The USDA had approved the original label in May, but then in November changed its mind and told Tyson it had to revise the label.

Tyson and USDA have approved a revised label that reads: "chicken raised without antibiotics that impact antibiotic resistance in humans."

"The new labeling enables us to continue producing Raised Without Antibiotics chicken, which nine out of 10 consumers say is important to them," said Dave Hogberg, senior vice president of consumer products marketing for Tyson Foods.

"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 of the Consumer Federation of America's Food Policy Institute and former assistant Secretary of Agriculture.

Tyson said it will phase in the new labeling language on its packages over the next several months.

Tyson began seeking modified wording after USDA notified the company in November 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 that was approved in May 2007.

USDA officials later withdrew their approval of the label, saying they consider ionophores a form of antibiotics.

Tyson said it 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.



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