ANN ARBOR, Mich. – On the heels of food Tyson Foods Inc.’s announced transition to source only antibiotic-free poultry and similar campaigns being adopted by foodservice companies including KFC and McDonald’s Corp, NSF International has developed an independent program to certify such claims made on food, non-food and ingredient products. NSF’s Raised Without Antibiotics program is a protocol that can be applied to a variety of species, including meat, poultry and seafood in addition to products in the dairy, eggs, leather and ingredient categories.
Products certified by the program are verified by NSF to have been raised with no exposure to antibiotics, assuring consumers the products will not contribute to antibiotic resistance of pathogens. According to NSF, “The certification provides independent verification of on-package claims and is the only “raised without antibiotics” certification that covers all animal products.”
A Thailand-based chicken supplier, Betagro Group, is the first company to adopt the new certification from NSF to inform the consumers it serves in Europe and Asia.
“A growing number of consumers are concerned about the widespread development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and the use of antibiotics in food production,” Sarah Krol, global managing director of food safety product certification with NSF said in a statement.
Research recently commissioned by NSF concluded that 59 percent of consumers prefer products from animals raised without antibiotics, but previously, no third-party verification of those claims was available.
While the certification verifies the absence of antibiotics, the program does permit the preventive use of ionophore chemical coccidiostats, where it is allowed by the labeling regulations in the region where products are to be sold. Ionophore chemical coccidiostats are not considered contributors to antimicrobial resistance, according to NSF.
“The program also encourages preventive measures such as vaccination, alternative treatments, litter management techniques and appropriate stocking density to maintain the health and welfare of the animals. If sick animals require antibiotics for treatment, they can receive veterinary care but must be removed from the Raised Without Antibiotics program,” a statement from NSF said.