Home Health Thanksgiving Information: Discovering Antibiotic-Free Turkeys

Thanksgiving Information: Discovering Antibiotic-Free Turkeys


Nov. 20, 2020 — As Individuals store for his or her Thanksgiving turkeys, a public well being advocacy group has issued a buying guide that charges manufacturers based mostly on their antibiotic use insurance policies.

Of the 15 manufacturers evaluated, eight acquired the inexperienced mild, 4 a warning mild, and three manufacturers a crimson mild, based mostly on details about antibiotic use within the turkeys discovered on the businesses’ web sites.

Business officers took difficulty with the report’s findings.

The information about antibiotic use in turkey manufacturing, general, is encouraging, says Sydney Riess, a public well being campaigns affiliate for the U.S. Public Curiosity Analysis Group, a federation of state teams that advocate towards threats to public well being and security. Its report, “Speaking Turkey,” was launched at the moment.

However, Riess says, “We additionally know there’s a lengthy technique to go.”

Beneath FDA laws, medically necessary drugs that struggle germs, outlined as these wanted to deal with human illness, can’t be utilized in turkeys and different feed animals to advertise progress however can be utilized to stop illness, she says. Some public well being specialists say the coverage ought to be stricter, permitting the antibiotics for use solely to deal with sick animals identified by a licensed vet or, in some circumstances, to regulate a verified illness outbreak. Overuse of antibiotics results in antibiotic resistance, an rising international well being difficulty.

What the Report Discovered

The U.S. Public Curiosity Analysis Group, or U.S. PIRG, evaluated 15 widespread turkey manufacturers, learning every model’s web site to seek out out about its coverage on antibiotic use. Utilizing that information, it divided the businesses into inexperienced, yellow, or crimson classes, from most preferrred to least.

Inexperienced-light corporations have publicly out there info on their web sites saying they prohibit the usage of all antibiotics or the routine use of medically necessary antibiotics for all complete turkeys offered.

Of the 15 manufacturers studied, eight had been labeled within the inexperienced class:

  • Fossil Farms
  • Koch’s
  • Murray’s
  • Nature’s Rancher
  • Norbest
  • Natural Prairie
  • Perdue
  • Plainville Farms

In keeping with info on their web sites, corporations within the yellow class might supply traces of complete turkeys raised with out antibiotics, or with out routine use of medically necessary antibiotics. However the coverage doesn’t essentially apply to all the complete turkeys offered by that model, based mostly on web site info, U.S. PIRG says.

4 corporations are on this yellow class:

  • Butterball
  • Foster Farms
  • Jennie-O
  • Northern Satisfaction

Firms within the crimson class haven’t any or restricted details about antibiotic use in complete turkeys on their web site; the information there suggests they proceed to make use of medically necessary antibiotics routinely to stop illness in well being animals, U.S. PIRG says.

Pink class corporations embody:

  • Honeysuckle White
  • Shady Brook Farms
  • Signature Farms

Business Response

Beth Breeding, a spokesperson for the Nationwide Turkey Federation, an trade group, reviewed the report and responded. “Nationwide Turkey Federation members are dedicated to the even handed use of antibiotics in turkey manufacturing, and the trade has prioritized lowering the necessity for the usage of antibiotics used to deal with folks whereas sustaining our dedication to animal welfare,” she says.

Breeding says the report ”has quite a few omissions and errors.” Amongst them, a number of corporations talked about weren’t contacted, she says.

The report is deceptive and flawed, says Daniel Sullivan, a spokesperson for Cargill, which sells Honeysuckle White and Shady Brook Farms turkeys. “The error is that they’re making these claims based mostly solely on what’s or isn’t revealed on a product web site, not any precise information,” he says. His firm doesn’t use antibiotics in its turkeys in a preventive style (on wholesome animals) and hasn’t since 2016, he says. “Practically 50 % of the birds offered below the Honeysuckle White model and Shady Brook Farms model are antibiotic-free, which means they had been by no means used. The Sincere Turkey model [also a Cargill brand] is one hundred pc antibiotic free. No point out of that anyplace within the report.”

Extra on FDA Laws, Public Well being Considerations

The FDA up to date its laws about medically necessary antibiotic use in food-producing animals in 2017, saying these medicines could also be used solely within the feed or consuming water of food-producing animals with veterinary oversight and cannot be used to spice up progress.

In keeping with the CDC, annually within the U.S., no less than 2.8 million folks get an antibiotic-resistant an infection, and greater than 35,000 die.

In keeping with U.S. PIRG, in 2017, turkey manufacturing used practically 18 occasions extra medically necessary antibiotics than rooster per pound of meat produced.

Professional Perspective

“The report reveals that there was progress among the many high recent turkey producers in decreasing overuse [of antibiotics],” says Steven Roach, food safety program director for Meals Animal Considerations Belief, a nonprofit advocating for animal welfare, who reviewed the report.

“Perdue [a major producer] now not permits routine antibiotic use, and another main producers are advertising and marketing some turkey raised in diminished antibiotic use packages,” he says.

“The report offers a useful software for customers who’re searching for a turkey and wish to reward corporations doing the appropriate factor on antibiotics. One problem for customers and client advocates is the dearth of transparency by corporations in how they’re really utilizing antibiotics on their farms.”

Customers may also search for particular phrases on the turkey label, akin to “No antibiotics administered,” “Raised with out antibiotics,” or “No antibiotics ever,” in accordance with U.S. PIRG.

WebMD Well being Information


Sydney Riess, public well being campaigns affiliate, U.S. Public Curiosity Analysis Group.

U.S. Public Curiosity Analysis Group: “Speaking Turkey: A Client Information to Shopping for Turkey Raised With out Overusing Antibiotics.”

Steven Roach, meals security program director, Meals Animal Considerations Belief, Chicago.

Beth Breeding, spokesperson, Nationwide Turkey Federation, Washington, D.C.

Daniel Sullivan, spokesperson, Cargill, Minneapolis.

CDC: “Antibiotic/Antimicrobial Resistance (AR/AMR).”

FDA: “Antimicrobial Resistance.”


© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here