Cargill Turkey Axes Growth-promoting Antibiotics

Spurred by consumer demand for a more transparent food chain, Cargill is eliminating growth-promoting antibiotics from all turkeys across the independent farms with which it works for its Honeysuckle White and Shady Brook Farms brands.

In explaining the change, Wichita, Kan.-based Cargill said it worked with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to develop a three-part verification process for turkey production that exceeds all current government and industry standards to ensure:

  • All turkeys are raised by independent farmers
  • Producers are trained on proper animal handling practices
  • No antibiotics are used for growth promotion (antibiotics only used for treatment of illness and disease prevention)

"Consumer research tells us people are more interested than ever in where their food comes from and how it is produced,” said Ruth Kimmelshue, president of the Cargill Turkey & Cooked Meats business. “We believe ending the use of antibiotics to promote growth in turkeys is an important step that provides consumers with nutritious and affordable options. Working with our broad network of independent farmers, Cargill has the experience, resources and capabilities to successfully make this change and meet the needs of our customers and consumers.”

Fresh, whole turkeys raised without growth-promoting antibiotics will be available this Thanksgiving under Cargill’s signature brand labels, Honeysuckle White and Shady Brook Farms, explained Kimmelshue, adding:  “All Cargill turkey flocks will be free of growth-promoting antibiotics by the end of 2015.”

Cargill’s initiative to remove growth-promoting antibiotics was reinforced last December when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a three-year plan to phase out the use of antibiotics that are medically important in human health and are also used to improve growth or feed efficiency in livestock and poultry.

Cargill said its farmer partners have been trained on industry leading animal handling practices established by the National Turkey Federation, which enable handlers to provide the best care for the animals. The company said "the health and wellness of animals is of utmost importance, and antibiotics will still be administered under the supervision of a veterinarian to treat and prevent disease."

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