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Tyson Alters Antibiotics Strategy, Labeling — Avoiding Only Those Important to Human Medicine

July 5, 2023
Tyson-branded chicken products will now carry a “No Antibiotics Important to Human Medicine” label, opening the door to some specific antibiotic use in flocks.

Tyson Foods has shifted its approach to antibiotics use in chickens, eliminating the “no antibiotics ever” (NAE) label and replacing it with “No Antibiotics Important to Human Medicine” (NAIHM) instead, a Tyson spokesperson told Reuters this weekend.

Earlier in June, Tyson released a “Position Statement on Antibiotic Stewardship” on its sustainability site, saying in part that “arbitrary reduction targets for antibiotic use are not in the best interest of animal, human or ecosystem health,” and this new approach to antibiotics and labeling appears to support that statement.

The Reuters report goes on to say that the modified approach will allow Tyson to reintroduce certain antibiotics that have been deemed as not important to human health in order to keep its flocks healthy.

Specifically, Tyson plans to add ionophores (according to a Wall Street Journal report) to combat coccidiosis in birds. Ionophores are not used in human medicine, and chickens cannot be slaughtered anyway until any antibiotics have cleared their systems — meaning no chicken products contain antibiotics. NAE and NAIHM labeling refers to antibiotics being used during the chickens’ lives.

Tyson Foods first announced its transition to NAE in 2015, and successfully completed the transition in 2017, according to the Reuters report.

About the Author

Andy Hanacek | Senior Editor

Andy Hanacek has covered meat, poultry, bakery and snack foods as a B2B editor for nearly 20 years, and has toured hundreds of processing plants and food companies, sharing stories of innovation and technological advancement throughout the food supply chain. In 2018, he won a Folio:Eddie Award for his unique "From the Editor's Desk" video blogs, and he has brought home additional awards from Folio and ASBPE over the years. In addition, Hanacek led the Meat Industry Hall of Fame for several years and was vice president of communications for We R Food Safety, a food safety software and consulting company.

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