There will be a bit of a blog break, as I’m traveling for a week. But here as a walk-off is an excellent post from the marvelous public-health blog Effect Measure about the complexities (to be kind) of food companies declaring antibiotic use in food animals.
Very short version of the story: Massive chicken producer Tyson advertised its chickens as being “raised without antibiotics”; the chicken eggs were actually being treated with gentamicin before hatch (therefore technically not being “raised”; the US Department of Agriculture objected, then backed down, then objected again after Tyson’s competitors acted on their own.
Tyson announced it is “voluntarily” withdrawing the label. Which is more than the USDA did, apparently, its hand having been forced by Tyson’s competitors organized into the Orwellian-named Truthful Labeling Coalition (including Perdue Farms Inc., Sanderson Farms Inc. and Livingston, California-based Foster Farms). Perdue and Sanderson had sued over a label they considered “clearly false and misleading,” and a federal judge agreed, ordering Tyson to stop them from running any advertisements with the claim last month. Now, belatedly, the USDA is acting.
The entire post is worth reading, as is Effect Measure (which is running on a “summer schedule” and therefore posting only once a day, thus making us all look bad. Hmm, perhaps a Public Health Blog Truthful Labeling Coalition is in order…)
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