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Tyson, USDA Agree on Antibiotics Label

January 10, 2008
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The Associated Press reported recently that Tyson Foods Inc. has reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture over the antibiotics labels on its fresh chicken after federal officials rejected the company''s original labeling.

The world''s largest meat processor said the revised labels will say its fresh chicken is "raised without antibiotics that impact antibiotic resistance in humans."

Last month, the USDA withdrew its approval of labels saying the chicken was "raised without antibiotics" after the agency said it had mistakenly overlooked a feed additive, called ionophores, used for Tyson''s chicken. The USDA has a long-standing policy of classifying ionophores as antibiotics, the agency said in a November letter to the company.

Tyson said at the time that "ionophores are not used in human medicine and do not contribute to the development of antibiotic resistance to important human drugs. They remain in the intestinal tract of the animal and do not carry over into the meat consumed by humans."

On Thursday, Tyson said in a news release that it plans to continue using ionophores, which are used as a preventive measure against intestinal illness in chickens. The company said it will begin phasing in the new labels over the next several months.

Tyson announced in June it would no longer use antibiotics to raise chicken that is sold fresh in stores and would promote the new product as part of a $70 million advertising campaign.

Tyson, the country''s second-largest chicken producer after Pilgrim''s Pride Corp., said at the time that fresh chicken made up less than 10 percent of the company''s sales, which also include pork and beef.
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