Tyson Foods Injects Chickens with Antibiotics Before They Hatch to Claim 'Raised without Antibiotics'

The controversy over Tyson's antibiotic-free label began in summer 2007, when the company began a massive advertising campaign to tout its chicken as "raised without **antibiotics**." Already, Tyson has spent tens of millions of dollars this year to date in continuing this campaign. (http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_15541.cfm)

Poultry farmers regularly treat **chickens** and other birds with antibiotics to prevent the development of intestinal infections that might reduce the weight (and profitability) of the birds. Yet scientists have become increasingly concerned that the routine use of antibiotics in animal **agriculture** may accelerate the development of antibiotic-resistant **bacteria** that could lead to a pandemic or other health crisis.
After Tyson began labeling its chicken antibiotic-free, **the USDA** warned the company that such labels were not truthful, because Tyson regularly treats its birds' feed with bacteria-killing ionophores. Tyson argued that ionophores are antimicrobials rather than antibiotics, but the USDA reiterated its policy that "ionophores are antibiotics." (http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_15541.cfm)

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Not long after, on June 3, USDA inspectors discovered that in addition to using ionophores, Tyson was regularly injecting its chicken eggs with gentamicin, an antibiotic that has been used for more than 30 years in the United States to treat urinary tract and blood infections. The drug is also stockpiled by the federal government as a treatment for biological agents such as plague.

"In contrast to information presented by Tyson Foods Inc., [inspectors] found that they routinely used the antibiotic gentamicin to prevent illness and death in chicks, which raises public health concerns," said USDA Undersecretary for Food Safety Richard Raymond.

"The use of this particular antibiotic was not disclosed to us," said USDA spokesperson Amanda Eamich.

The agency told Tyson that based on the new discovery, it would no longer consider the antibiotic-free label "truthful and accurate." It gave the company 15 days to remove the label from all its products, although that deadline was eventually extended to July 9.

But Tyson objected again, claiming that because the antibiotics are injected two to three days before the chickens hatched, the birds can truthfully be said to be "raised without antibiotics." USDA rules on how to label the raising of birds do not address anything that happens before the second day of life, the company said.

Other relevant sites for more information: http://barfblog.com/2010/01/articles/food-safety-communication/tyson-settles-chicken-raised-without-antibiotics-suit/,

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Tyson® 100% All-Natural*™ Chicken Breast Patties
Tyson® 100% All-Natural*™ Chicken Breast Patties

Edited by: Connor King
Allegany-Limestone High School
Last date edited- 01/27/2010