Cargill said Tuesday that it would remove growth-promoting antibiotics from all turkeys grown by the independent farms from which the company buys its birds.
According to a news release, Cargill worked with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop a three-part verification process for turkey production.
“Consumer research tells us people are more interested than ever in where their food comes from and how it is produced,” Ruth Kimmelshue, president of the Cargill Turkey & Cooked Meats business, said in a statement. “We believe ending the use of antibiotics to promote growth in turkeys is an important step that provides consumers with nutritious and affordable options.”
Cargill’s policy will still allow antibiotics to be used to prevent or treat diseases in turkeys.
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The company said that it would have a supply of turkeys without growth-promoting antibiotics by Thanksgiving, and that all its flocks would meet the new standard by the end of 2015.
The Food and Drug Administration announced in December that it was putting in place a three-year voluntary plan to reduce the use of antibiotics in livestock.
Health officials have said that the use of antibiotics in livestock – as well as their widespread use in consumer products and through over-prescribed medicines – could lead to a growing number of antibiotic-resistant conditions and diseases.