Drovers | FSIS Asked to Recall Beef Over Failed Antibiotic Tests

Reposted from: https://www.drovers.com/news/industry/fsis-asked-recall-beef-over-failed-antibiotic-tests

USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) should immediately recall any beef that tested positive for the presence of antibiotics. Farm Action and the American Grassfed Association made the request after a study by Georgetown University reported finding antibiotics in cattle destined to be sold through a USDA-approved no-antibiotics labeling program.

In a statement, the groups say the current system that processes “raised without antibiotics” (RWA) beef lacks credibility. They said a previous investigation from the organization Farm Forward discovered antibiotic-positive meat on Whole Foods Market shelves.

In their statement, the two groups suggest Whole Foods is the retail destination for the beef in the Georgetown study, but Whole Foods said in an email to Drovers that is an incorrect assumption and no retailer is identified by the study.

“We have extensively reviewed the information made available to us and have no reason to believe that the cattle tested in this study ended up in products in our stores,” a Whole Foods Market spokesperson wrote. “We take compliance very seriously and never hesitate to act if a supplier has failed to meet our rigorous Quality Standards.”

In a letter to FSIS, Farm Action and American Grassfed Association described the pressing need for immediate action: “FSIS should swiftly request a recall of the meat in question. If Whole Foods refuses to recall its misleadingly-labeled meat, FSIS should use its legal authority to detain and seize it.” 

On Thursday, Science Magazine published a study where researchers from George Washington University tested urine samples from cattle that were destined for a “Raised without Antibiotics” (RWA) marketplace and found about 15% of the cattle tested positive for antibiotics. The researchers say their findings suggest current “raised without antibiotics” labels lack integrity.

Farm Action and the American Grassfed Association wants an “investigation of the entire Whole Foods supply chain, including the retail stores, slaughter plants, and feedlots that claim to produce antibiotic-free meat.”  

“Labels should mean what they say,” said Angela Huffman, Vice President and Co-Founder of Farm Action. “When they are false or misleading, people can get sick, cheaters profit, and farmers working hard to comply with the rules lose money and market opportunities.”

“American Grassfed formed over the issue of truth in labeling,” said Carrie Balkcom, Executive Director for the American Grassfed Association. “We’re reaching out to FSIS now in pursuit of real accountability and oversight.”

Only a recall, thorough investigation, and appropriate penalties will protect consumers and those farmers who do comply with the antibiotic-free claims, the two groups maintain. Failure to take these steps perpetuates a system that rewards deceit and endangers consumers.