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Tyson Foods to End Use of Antibiotic

SPRINGDALE, Ark. - Tyson Foods Inc. said Wednesday it will end use of the antibiotic Baytril in its broiler chickens to ease consumer worries, The Associated Press reports.

The Food and Drug Administration has urged the ban because of worries that the drug's use in chicken can lead to people being susceptible to illnesses.

Tyson said use of fluoroquinolones -- including Bayer Corp.'s Baytril -- was already minimal. Last year, fluoroquinolones were used in less than two-tenths of 1 percent of the 2.1 billion broiler chickens it produced for human consumption, according to the company.

Tyson spokesman Ed Nicholson said there's no proof that such antibiotics contribute to drug resistance among people, according to the AP.

Bayer disputes arguments that growing resistance to antibiotics is tied to Baytril and plans to take its case to an administrative law judge later this year, the AP reports.

However, the FDA says that since 1995, when Baytril was approved for poultry, there has been a dramatic increase in the percentage of cases in which people developed food-borne illnesses that resisted treatment by Cipro and other human forms of those drugs.

In a statement, Bayer said it supported Tyson's decision but believes there is a valid use for fluoroquinolones when necessary.

"Fluoroquinolones play an important role in treating poultry with serious illnesses, thereby assuring the safety and wholesomeness of our nation's food supply," the company said.

Tyson said it will have to switch to another antibiotic to treat sick birds. The company did not commit to ending use of fluoroquinolones in its breeding flocks, which lay eggs but are not sold as food, the AP reports.
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