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Leading US poultry producers cut back use of antibiotics.

Excessive use of antibiotics can cause resistant strains to develop in poultry as well as people, so three major poultry processors in the United States -- Tyson Foods, Perdue Farms and Foster Farms -- are cutting back.

None of them have made a big deal in public about the change in policy, which has apparently come in response to widespread criticism by US health and consumer groups. Since there aren't any federal requirements on reporting antibiotic use, moreover, there's no way of telling how much has really changed.

Keep Antibiotics Working, an activist group, has publicized scientific studies showing a link between overuse of antibiotics and the emergence of drug-resistant bacteria in meat and poultry products. For example, bacteria resistance in humans rose from about zero to nearly 18% after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allowed use of fluoroquinolones to treat chickens in 1995.

The poultry industry has argued that the drugs only prevent infection in chickens and enhance growth. The National Chicken Council has insisted that farmers always use antibiotics responsibly. But there has been a shift since controversy developed over an antibiotic called Baytril that is closely related to Cipro, a drug used to treat anthrax and foodborne illnesses caused by campylobacter and salmonella in humans.

Tyson, Perdue and Foster, which between them sell 216 million pounds of chicken a year (a third of all the chickens consumed annually in the US), have announced that they are voluntarily taking out antibiotics from their chicken feeds. Foster said it wasn't using any antibiotics in the first place, except to treat sick birds. Tyson reported that it has cut back on antibiotics similar to human drugs, and that antibiotics are only used if a flock is threatened by disease. Perdue, too, said that it won't use antibiotics the same as or similar to those used by humans.
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Comment:Leading US poultry producers cut back use of antibiotics.(Brief Article)
Publication:Quick Frozen Foods International
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2002
Words:306
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