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July 1, 2024

Antibiotics in Meat: What You Need to Know

Clearing Up a Common Misconception

All meat, poultry, and dairy foods sold in the United States are free of antibiotic residues, as required by federal law. This means that even if antibiotics were used when the animal was alive, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) mandates that all meat, including pork, chicken, or turkey, must not contain antibiotic residues above the Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs) set by the agency. This ensures that any antibiotics are cleared from an animal’s system before it enters the food supply chain.

Why Are Antibiotics Used in Livestock?

Like humans, animals sometimes need antibiotics when they get sick. They may also be used to prevent disease or promote growth. Farmers must follow strict FDA guidelines for antibiotic use, including the proper dosage, duration, and withdrawal time.

How Are Antibiotics Administered?

Antibiotics can be given to animals as injections or added to their feed or water to treat or prevent illness in larger groups.

Regulations and Guidelines

As of June 2023, all meat and poultry farmers must have a veterinarian’s prescription to purchase antibiotics. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) routinely samples meat and poultry products to ensure they are free of antibiotic residues before reaching consumers. Any products testing positive for antibiotic residues are removed from the food system.

Understanding Antibiotic Residues

The FDA explains that after a food-producing animal is treated with a drug, residues may remain in food products like meat, poultry, milk, and eggs for some time. The agency ensures these residues are not harmful by setting tolerance levels and withdrawal periods, which are the times required for residues to fall below harmful levels.

FDA’s New Rules on Antibiotic Use

The FDA’s new rules aim to combat antimicrobial resistance, a significant concern for both animal and human health. By requiring medical supervision for antibiotic use, the FDA helps ensure that antibiotics are used effectively and appropriately.

Long-Term Benefits of Reducing Antibiotic Use

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), antimicrobial resistance is a global issue, with over 2.8 million antibiotic-resistant infections occurring annually in the U.S., resulting in more than 35,000 deaths. Many veterinarians, producers, and animal health stakeholders are now committed to responsible antibiotic use and are adopting better animal care practices to reduce the need for antibiotics.

Understanding Labels: What Does “No Antibiotics Ever” Mean?

This label means that no antibiotics were used in raising the animal. If an animal becomes sick and needs antibiotics, it is removed from the “no antibiotics” line and processed separately. Producers must provide documentation to the USDA, but there are no inspections for this claim.

Should You Only Buy “No Antibiotics Ever” Meat?

Both antibiotic-free and conventionally raised meat are safe. It’s a personal choice for consumers. Regardless of your choice, Jones ensures that all their meat is fresh, never frozen, and sourced from local Midwest producers. Jones products are hormone-free, without additives, preservatives, binders, or MSG, based on original family recipes for over 135 years.

Does Jones Buy Meat from Quality Suppliers?

Yes, Jones partners with high-quality suppliers and requires regular audits, plant inspections, and thorough checks upon receipt of products. This selective process ensures a better product for customers.  Learn more about the Jones Difference.

Hormones in Meat

Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones in raising hogs and poultry. While animals have natural hormones for growth, added hormones are not allowed.

Answers to Other Commonly Asked Questions:

  • Are there antibiotics in Jones meat?
    No, based on FDA guidelines, all Jones products sold are free of antibiotic residues.
  • Does cooking meat get rid of antibiotics?
    The answer is “does not apply” because antibiotics are already cleared from an animal’s system before it enters the food supply chain. However, it is always important for consumers to safely clean, separate, cook, and chill both raw and cooked pork and poultry, as necessary. Be sure to always wash your hands with soap and water before and after handling food.
  • Is antibiotic-free chicken and pork really antibiotic-free?
    Yes, all pork and poultry sold in the United States are free of antibiotic residues, whether they are labeled “antibiotic-free” or not.

Jones Products with “No Antibiotics Ever” Meat

Learn more about Jones Dairy Farm’s all natural products produced with vegetarian fed, hormone-free pork and poultry with no additives like sugar, MSG, nitrates or artificial flavors.

Where can I buy Jones products?

Check the Product Finder to find the retailer near you that sells Jones products.

Have an additional questions not covered in this article?

Reach out to our customer service representatives here.

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