Skip to main content
Karen Showalter's picture

Brought to you by U.S. PIRG Education Fund

Happy Saturday! Today’s #GFF2015 Healthy New Year Challenge activity is brought to you by U.S. PIRG Education Fund and is all about protecting the health of our communities. Have you heard? The White House just doubled funding to combat antibiotic resistance – citing it a major public health and economic threat.  Luckily, you can help combat this problem in the grocery store.
Our tips: Learn more about the effects of overusing antibiotics in factory farming. Then, next time you go grocery shopping, make sure you buy meat that’s labeled “raised without antibiotics” and/or “organic.”
Right now, up to 70 percent of the antibiotics sold in the United States are sold for use on animal farms. Most of the animals receiving these daily doses aren’t sick, but are given the drugs to promote growth and prevent the diseases common to factory farming operations. Antibiotic-resistant superbugs are often the result of this overuse. 
The best way to put a stop to this misuse of antibiotics is to buy meat raised without the routine use of antibiotics. Labels can be tricky, but “raised without antibiotics” and/or “organic” will ensure that this meat never got the regular, daily doses typical of most farms. That’s something our children will thank us for later!
Read more below for more tips about shopping for meat raised without antibiotics.
From Consumer Reports Greener Choices and Meat on Drugs[2]
86 percent of consumers indicated they thought that meat raised without antibiotics should be available in their local supermarket” and, largely, it is. But you have to know what to look for. Labels can be misleading.
Look for:
The USDA’s organic rules prohibit antibiotic use on livestock and must be verified on-site by an independent accredited certifier. So, you can feel confident that any meat or poultry labeled “USDA Organic” comes from animals that never have been given any antibiotics. 
Organic + Grassfed 
“Grassfed” labels, usually found on beef, can be useful if they are coupled with the “organic” label. Animals raised organically must have been raised without antibiotics. If “grassfed” appears alone, however, antibiotics might have been given.
Many variations, such as "No antibiotics added" or "Never ever given antibiotics." This labeling is helpful but most reliable when accompanied by a "USDA Process Verified" shield. However, backing by a private certifier, such as Global Animal Partnership for Whole Foods' meat, is equally reliable.
Do not to rely on:
“Natural” may sound as good, but it doesn’t indicate anything about antibiotics. Unless the label explicitly says otherwise, antibiotics might have been used in raising “natural” meat and poultry. According to the USDA, “natural” means only that the final product doesn’t contain artificial ingredients or added color and is minimally processed. So, while "natural" is approved by the USDA, it is not a meaningful statement about antibiotics use. 
The USDA specifically says it never authorizes the use of “antibiotic-free,” so this claim has no clear or consistent meaning in the marketplace and should not appear on packaging. Via:
This is not a USDA-approved claim and only indicates that antibiotics residue levels in the final product fall below Food and Drug Administration tolerance thresholds. This label does not mean no drugs were used in the animal’s life.
This claim is not approved by the USDA. Even though an animal may not have been given antibiotics for growth promotion, it still could have received them on a daily basis to prevent disease, which is the main use for the drugs in crowded growing facilities. 
Alone, labels regarding how an animal was confined does not indicate much about whether or not an animal received unnecessary antibiotics. 
Meat and poultry raised without antibiotics does not have to be expensive. While prices vary among stores, types and cuts of meat, in some cases meat raised without antibiotics can cost less than the national average. Virtually all of the “no antibiotics” chicken, turkey, and pork products found by Consumer Report shoppers in their 2012 study were priced under $10 per pound. Some meat raised without antibiotics could be found at virtually every chain where such meat is available at under $5 per pound. 
These grocery chains’ store brands offer meat raised without routine antibiotics.
  • Ahold USA (Giant, Martin’s, Peapod, Stop & Shop) - Nature’s Promise
  • Costco - Kirkland
  • Delhaize (Bloom, Bottom Dollar, Food Lion, Hannaford, Harveys, Sweetbay) – Nature’s Place
  • Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company (A&P, Food Basics, Food Emporium, Pathmark, SuperFresh, Waldbaum’s) – Green Way and Mid-Atlantic Country Farms
  • H-e-B (Central Market, H-e-B, H-e-B Plus) - H-e-B Natural
  • Kroger (Baker’s, City Market, Dillons, Food 4 Less, Foods Co., Fred Meyer, Fry’s, Gerbes, JayC, King Soopers, Kroger, Owen’s, pay Less, QFC, Ralphs, Scott’s, Smith’s - Simple Truth
  • Safeway (Carrs, Dominick’s, genuardi’s, pavilions, Randalls, Safeway, Tom Thumb, Vons) - Open Nature and O Organics
  • Supervalu (acme, albertsons, Cub, Farm Fresh, Hornbacher’s, Jewel-Osco, Lucky, Save-a-Lot, Shaw’s/Star Market, Shop ‘n Save, Shoppers) - Wild Harvest Natural
  • Publix - GreenWise
  • Trader Joe’s - Trader Joe’s All-Natural and Trader Joe’s Organic
  • Wegmans – all meat and poultry
  • Whole Foods Market – Food You Feel Good About
From PEW Charitable Trusts Top Companies Moving Away from Overuse of Antibiotics on Factory Farmsiii 
These producers offer the meat listed raised without routine antibiotics.
  • Applegate – Beef, pork, poultry
  • Bell & Evans – Poultry
  • Coleman (Perdue) – Poultry
  • Estancia Beef – Beef
  • Evol Foods – Beef, pork, poultry
  • FreeBird – Poultry
  • Harvestland (Perdue) – Poultry
  • Luvo ¬– Beef, chicken, turkey
  • MamaMancini’s – Beef and turkey meatballs
  • Meyer Natural Angus – Beef
  • Miller Poultry – Poultry
  • Murray’s – Poultry
  • Niman Ranch – Beef, lamb, pork
  • Ranch Foods Direct – Beef
  • Redbird Chicken – Poultry
  • Saffron Road – Chicken, lamb
  • Springer Mountain Farms – Chicken
  • Thousand Hills Cattle Co. – Beef
  • White Oak Pastures – Beef, chicken, lamb

The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of strongly encourages our readers to post comments in response to blog posts. We value diversity of opinions and perspectives. Our goals for this space are to be educational, thought-provoking, and respectful. So we actively moderate comments and we reserve the right to edit or remove comments that undermine these goals. Thanks!