Tyson Foods will use certain antibiotics once again in birds for its own-brand chicken products

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/sorbetto
© GettyImages/sorbetto

Related tags Antibiotics

Tyson Foods says its transition to a new tagline in relation to antibiotic use is coherent with its responsible stewardship model.

In 2017, the US meat giant committed to including only birds raised without any antibiotics in its own-brand chicken products.

However, at the start of this month, the Wall Street Journal reported that Tyson Foods was reintroducing certain antibiotics to its chicken supply chain and that it would drop its ‘no antibiotics ever’ tagline from chicken products under its own brand.

This will involve only the use of drugs that the company said are not important to human health.

Sound science, industry best practice

Asked for the rationale behind the move, a Tyson Foods spokesperson told FeedNavigator:

"At Tyson Foods, we base our decisions on sound science and an evolving understanding of the best practices impacting our customers, consumers and the animals in our care.

"Based on current science, Tyson branded chicken products are transitioning to No Antibiotics Important to Human Medicine (NAIHM), which is expected to be complete by the end of the calendar year."

The company claims that roughly half of the US industry uses some form of antibiotics in producing chickens. 

NAIHM, continued the spokeperson, is a heightened standard that has been recognized by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) for decades and qualified through program documentation showing no antibiotics important to human health have been used.

"This transition continues to support our approach to responsible stewardship and the decision was made with the best interest of people and animals in mind.” 

Controlling coccidiosis 

Tyson Foods will be using ionophores to support bird health in its own-brand chicken range, reported the Wall Street Journal, citing company sources.

Ionophores are mainly used to control coccidiosis, maintain intestinal integrity, avoid pain and suffering and help deliver good bird health and welfare, according to the British Poultry Council.

“If coccidiosis is not controlled, the parasite can cause enteritis in birds leading to intestinal inflammation, reduced absorptive capacity, increased podo-dermatitis, increased mortality and could require the use of medically important antibiotics.”

Tyson Foods had been using chemical coccidiostats in its management ​of coccidiosis but a spokesperson outlined previously how some coccidiosis strains can build resistance to those chemicals and a rotation is required. 

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