USDA Statement on Antibiotics in Meat

Why doesn't the USDA require meat companies to label whether their meat has been administered antibiotics?

Animal Raising claims related to the use of nonuse of antibiotics: FSIS has regulations in 9 CFR 317.8 that require all labeling features to be truthful, accurate, and not misleading.  The Federal establishment is responsible for ensuring labels are in compliance with the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA; 21 U.S.C. § 601, 607), the Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA; 21 U.S.C. § 451, 457) and the implementing of those regulations. This includes all mandatory label requirements as prescribed in Part 317 (subsection 2) and 381 (Subpart N) of Title 9 of the Code of Federal Regulations (9 CFR 317.2 and 381 Subpart N).

USDA does not mandate that labels state whether or not meat or poultry has been administered antibiotics.

Labeling bearing claims on how animals for a meat or poultry product were raised are evaluated by FSIS prior to use.For the past 25 years FSIS has evaluated animal raising claims by considering information on animal production practices submitted by companies as part of their label approval requests.  See below the required information.

How does the USDA regulate the terms "antibiotic free" and "raised without antibiotics" on labels?

FSIS typically evaluates such claims by reviewing testimonials, affidavits, animal production protocols, and other relevant documentation provided by animal producers.  This information may include: 1) a detailed written protocol explaining controls for assuring the production claim; 2) A signed affidavit declaring the specifics of the animal production claim(s) and that the claims are not false or misleading; and; 3) Product tracing and segregation mechanism from time of slaughter and/or further processing through packaging and wholesale or retail distribution.

What is your position on these antibiotics creating antibiotic resistant bacteria and "superbugs" that could be potentially harmful to humans?

Labels bearing animal raising claims are required to be approved prior to use in commerce, with the understanding that inspectors can be assured as to the source of the product.  Inspectors monitor labels applied to meat and meat products at the establishment.

Currently there is not a regulatory definition for “raised without antibiotics.” FSIS does approve the claim "raised without antibiotics." Examples of such claims include “No Antibiotics Administered," "Raised Without Antibiotics," "No Added Antibiotics "and "No Added Antibiotics Ever.”

We do not approve “antibiotic free.”  “Antibiotic Free” claims are not permitted because there is no way of determining the accuracy of this claim through present technology. Technology is limited because any test has minimum detectable levels. In addition, each antibiotic has different minimum detectable levels.  

Consequently,  all labels must be approved by the FSIS Labeling and Program Delivery Staff (LPDS).  For general information on FSIS labeling procedures, see:

4 Steps to Shedding Your Pandemic Pounds

Forgive yourself, and start walking toward a healthier you.

For those of you who have put on the Pandemic Pounds or added several new COVID Curves, you are not alone. Alarmingly, the American Psychological Association has recently published that almost half of all adults in their survey now have a larger physique. In fact, 42% of people reported gaining roughly 15 pounds (the average published was surprisingly 29 pounds but that included outliers) over the past year. Interestingly, 20% of adults in this survey lost about 12 pounds (I am surely not in this group). Clearly, there is a relationship between stress and weight change. In addition, one in four adults disclosed an increase in alcohol consumption, and 67% of participants distressingly revealed that they have new sleeping patterns.

This past year has brought about what has been called the 'new normal.' Social isolation and inactivity due to quarantining and remote working have sadly contributed to the decline in many people's mental and physical health, as demonstrated by the widespread changes in people's weight, alcohol consumption, and sleeping patterns. Gym closures, frequent ordering of unhealthy takeout, and increased time at home cooking and devouring comfort foods have had a perceptible impact. In addition, many people have delayed routine medical care and screening tests over fear of contracting Covid-19 during these visits. Unfortunately, the 'new normal' has now placed too many people at risk for serious health consequences, including heart attacks and strokes.

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