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Report: Most Turkey Producers Allow Routine Antibiotic Use

Humane farming advocates Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT) have released an overview of the antibiotics and other drugs used in turkey production.

The organization is part of the Keep Antibiotics Working coalition, which recommends that food animal producers limit the use of medically important antibiotics to disease treatment in order to prevent overuse and subsequent spread of antibiotic resistance.

FACT found that among the top 20 turkey producers, only Hain Pure Protein, marketed under the Plainville Farms Brand, and Tyson Foods, marketed under the Hillshire Brand, stated that they don’t allow their producers to routinely use antibiotics related to those used in humane medicine either for disease prevention or for growth promotion.

Another four companies prohibit the use of these antibiotics for growth promotion, but allow such use for disease prevention.

Nine companies, including the three largest – Butterball, Jennie-O and Cargill – stated that they don’t use the non-antibiotic growth-promoter ractopamine.

FACT recommends that consumers avoid companies that allow ractopamine or routine antibiotic use and seek out companies that are transparent about the drugs they use in food production. The report also recommends that consumers look for products that are produced under a third-party certification that includes controls on veterinary drug use.

“Turkey meat has consistently had the highest level of superbugs compared to other meats, and so it’s important for consumers to know about the use of antibiotics in turkey production,” said Steven Roach, FACT’s Food Safety Program Director. “This report shows that most turkey companies have not committed to ending routine antibiotic use on their farms.”

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