Two USDA agencies will begin a sampling project to see if there are antibiotic residues in beef marketed as “raised without antibiotics,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Wednesday. The USDA’s food safety agency will also issue a guideline recommending that companies produce more proof when they want to use a label that says animals were raised under specific conditions.
“Grass-fed” and other descriptions on meat packages are optional, but they must be approved by the USDA.
The USDA said the Agricultural Research Service and the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) would collaborate on testing meat for antibiotic residues. The project will help determine if companies should be required to submit laboratory reports to back up a “raised without antibiotics” label or if the USDA would start a sampling program to verify such claims.
In addition, the FSIS “plans to strongly encourage use of third-party verification” of marketing claims.