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Thanksgiving Guide: Find Antibiotic-Free Turkeys

November 20, 2020-When Americans buy Thanksgiving turkey, public health advocates have issued a buying guide to evaluate the brand based on antibiotic usage policies.

Of the 15 brands rated, eight are green, four are caution, and three are red, based on information on turkey antibiotic use posted on the company’s website.

Industry insiders had problems with the findings of the report.

News about the use of antibiotics in turkey production is generally encouraging, and a public health campaign by the US Public Health Research Group, a coalition of state groups advocating against threats to public health and safety. Says Associate Sydney Reese. The report “Talking Turkey” was released today.

However, Mr. Reese said, “I know there is still a long way to go.”

Medically important drugs that fight bacteria, defined by FDA regulations as necessary for the treatment of human disease, cannot be used in turkeys and other forage animals to promote growth, but the disease Can be used to prevent. As some public health professionals can only use antibiotics to treat sick animals diagnosed by a licensed veterinarian, or in some cases to control the outbreak of a confirmed illness, He says the policy needs to be stricter. Antibiotic misuse leads to antibiotic resistance and new global health problems.

What the report found

The US Public Interest Research Group (US PIRG) evaluated 15 popular Turkish brands and surveyed each brand’s website for policies regarding antibiotic use. We used that data to categorize companies from the most ideal to the lowest into green, yellow, or red categories.

Greenlight companies publish information on their website that they ban the use of all antibiotics in all turkeys for sale and the daily use of medically important antibiotics doing.

Of the 15 brands surveyed, 8 were in the green category.

  • Fossil farm
  • Koch’s
  • Murray
  • Nature’s Launcher
  • Norbest
  • Organic prairie
  • Purdue
  • Plainville Farm

According to information on their website, companies in the yellow category may offer an entire line of turkeys raised without antibiotics or without the daily use of medically significant antibiotics. .. However, USPIRG states that this policy does not necessarily apply to all turkeys sold by the brand, based on the information on the website.

There are four companies in this yellow category.

  • Butter ball
  • Foster Farm
  • Jenny-O
  • Northern pride

Companies in the red category have limited or no information on their websites regarding the use of antibiotics throughout turkey. The data there suggest that they continue to use medically important antibiotics on a daily basis to prevent disease in healthy animals, USPIRG says.

The companies in the red category are:

  • Honeysuckle White
  • Shady Brook Farms
  • Signature farm

Industry response

Beth Breeding, a spokesman for the National Turkey Federation, an industry group, reviewed and responded to the report. “All members of the Turkish Federation are working on the wise use of antibiotics in Turkish production, and the industry needs to use antibiotics used to treat people while maintaining their commitment to animal welfare. We prioritize reducing sex, “she says.

Breeding states that “there are many omissions and mistakes” in the report. In it, she says, some of the companies mentioned were not contacted.

The report is misleading and incorrect, says Cargill spokesman Daniel Sullivan, who sells Honeysuckle White and Shady Brook Farm turkeys. “The mistake is that we make these claims based solely on what is and isn’t published on the product’s website, not on the actual data,” he says. He says his company hasn’t used antibiotics prophylactically (in healthy animals) on turkeys and hasn’t used them since 2016. “Almost 50% of the birds sold under the Honeysuckle White and Shady Brook Farms brands do not contain antibiotics and have never been used. The Honest Turkey brand [also a Cargill brand] It does not contain 100% antibiotics. There is no mention of it anywhere in the report. “

FDA regulations, details of public health concerns

The FDA updated regulations on the use of medically important antibiotics in food-producing animals in 2017, and these medicines can only be used in the feed or drinking water of food-producing animals under veterinary supervision, and growth He said it cannot be used to promote.

According to the CDC, at least 2.8 million people in the United States get antibiotic-resistant infections each year and more than 35,000 die.

According to US PIRG, turkey production in 2017 used about 18 times more medically important antibiotics than chicken per pound of meat produced.

Expert perspective

“The report shows that progress has been made in reducing abuse among the top producers of fresh turkey. [of antibiotics]”Steven Roach, director of the food safety program at Food Animal Concerns Trust, a non-profit animal welfare organization that reviewed the report, said.

“Purdue [a major producer] Routine antibiotic use is no longer permitted, and some other major producers sell turkeys raised in programs that reduce antibiotic use, “he said. say.

“This report provides a useful tool for consumers looking for turkey and wanting to reward companies that are doing the right thing about antibiotics. One challenge for consumers and consumer advocates is: Lack of transparency about how companies actually use antibiotics. Farms. “

According to US PIRG, consumers can also look for specific phrases on turkey labels, such as “no antibiotics,” “keeping without antibiotics,” or “no antibiotics.”

WebMD Health News


Sydney Lease, Public Health Campaign Associate, US Public Interest Research Group.

US Public Interest Research Group: “Speaking Turkey: A Consumer Guide to Buying Turkey Raised Without Overuse of Antibiotics.”

Steven Roach, director of food safety programs at the Food Animal Concerns Trust in Chicago.

Beth Breeding, Spokesperson, National Federation of Turkey, Washington DC

Daniel Sullivan, Spokesman, Cargill, Minneapolis.

CDC: “Antibiotic / antimicrobial resistance (AR / AMR)”.

FDA: “Antibacterial resistant”.

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Thanksgiving Guide: Find Antibiotic-Free Turkeys

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