Tyson Foods scales back its antibiotic-free beef pledge

By Staff
3 Min Read

Tyson Foods is pulling back on the sale of beef raised without antibiotics, one year after reintroducing them to its poultry supply chain.

The meat processor said in a statement that it will continue to sell antibiotic-free beef “based on market demand.” Tyson added that its commitment to antibiotic stewardship remains the same.

“Tyson Foods is dedicated to maintaining the health and welfare of the animals within our supply chain. 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,” the company said.

In a 2022 post on its website, Tyson noted that ranchers sourcing beef for its products “may use small amounts of FDA-approved growth promotants … to increase the rate of lean weight gain.”

Open Prairie, Tyson’s brand of all-natural meat products that previously sold antibiotic-free beef, no longer lists it as a product on its website. Open Prairie continues to offer pork.

During the past decade, the meat industry has distanced itself from a reliance on livestock raised with antibiotics as consumers have spoken out against the dangers of bacteria-resistant antibiotics. Meat raised without antibiotics is more expensive to produce, and it carries a higher price tag at the grocery store.

In 2017, Tyson announced it would eliminate antibiotics from its poultry supply chain. But signs that the company was changing course on that decision emerged last summer. Tyson removed the “no antibiotics ever” labels on some of its chicken products and reinstated the use of birds raised with the medicines.

Perdue Farms, one of Tyson’s biggest rivals in the chicken market, told Agriculture Dive last week it will remain dedicated to its antibiotic-free supply chain.

Meat products claiming to be antibiotic-free have faced intense scrutiny from public health officials for the accuracy of their labels. A study published in Science magazine in 2022 found 42% of feedyards with “Raised Without Antbiotics” certification contained at least one animal that tested positive for antibiotics.

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