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article imageMost turkey producers still using antibiotics and other drugs

By Karen Graham     Nov 24, 2015 in Food
A few days ago, Chicago-based Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT) released a new report examining the use of antibiotics and other drugs in turkey production in the U.S.
The Thanksgiving holiday season wouldn't be complete without turkey, and millions will be sold this year. While turkey is sometimes seen as one of our healthier meats, turkey meat actually has some of the highest levels of superbugs compared to other meats.
FACT is part of the Keep Antibiotics Working coalition and recommends food animal producers refrain from using medically important antibiotics in meat animal production unless they are being used to treat a specific disease. The widespread use of medically important antibiotics has helped to create a number of "superbugs," resistant to the very antibiotics being used in food animal production.
FACT's concerns magnify the FDA's final rule for its Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) that is supposed to bring the use of antibiotics in livestock under veterinary supervision.
Most Top Turkey Production Companies Still Allow the Routine Use of Antibiotics (PRNewsFoto/Food Ani...
Most Top Turkey Production Companies Still Allow the Routine Use of Antibiotics (PRNewsFoto/Food Animal Concerns Trust)
In the report, "Stuffed: The Use Of Antibiotics and Other Drugs in the U.S. Turkey Industry" released by FACT, 20 of the nation's top turkey producers were asked about their use of antibiotics, ractopamine, and nitarsone. Only two companies, Hain Pure Protein, marketed under the Plainville Farms Brand, and Tyson Foods, marketed under the Hillshire Brand, said they did not use antibiotics or growth drugs in the production of their turkeys.
Four companies said they did not use antibiotics for increased growth. Eight companies do raise some turkeys to be marketed under a raised without antibiotics or organic label.
Nine companies said they do not use the artificial growth promoter ractopamine, including three of the top turkey producers, Butterball, Jennie-O, and Cargill. Ractopamine has been approved for use in turkeys, cattle and swine, even though the drug has been associated with health problems in animals, including increased mortality in turkeys raised under heat stress.
Steven Roach, FACT’s Food Safety Program Director said, "This report shows that most turkey companies have not committed to ending routine antibiotic use on their farms." The report also recommends that consumers look at labels showing third-party certification that includes controls on veterinary drug use.
More about Thanksgiving turkey, turkey producers, Antibiotics, Superbugs, ractopamine use
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