NSF International has developed an independent certification protocol — Raised Without Antibiotics — to certify animal products have been raised without exposure to antibiotics.
The new certification will help consumers identify products that do not contribute to the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
The certification can be granted to many animal products, including meat, poultry, seafood, dairy, eggs, leather and certain supplement ingredients.
It provides independent verification of on-package claims and is the only ‘raised without antibiotics’ certification that covers all animal products.
“A growing number of consumers are concerned about the widespread development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and the use of antibiotics in food production,” said Sarah Krol, global managing director of food safety product certification.
She said the “certification gives consumers an easy way to identify animal products that have been raised without exposure to antibiotics, which may help alleviate their concerns”.
A 2016 survey conducted for NSF International found that 59% of consumers prefer products from animals raised without antibiotics.
But, without an independent certification process, consumers have not been able to verify claims made by marketers – until now.
Betagro Group in Thailand, a large supplier of chicken to consumers in Asia and Europe, is the first company to earn the certification.
NSF International developed the Raised Without Antibiotics protocol in partnership with the food animal industry and veterinary stakeholders.
Under the program, animals cannot be certified if they have received antibiotics.
The use of ionophore chemical coccidiostats, which are not considered contributors to antimicrobial resistance, may be permitted to prevent infections, depending on labeling regulations in the region of product sale.
The program also encourages preventive measures such as vaccination, alternative treatments, litter management techniques and appropriate stocking density to maintain the health and welfare of the animals.
If sick animals require antibiotics for treatment, they can receive veterinary care but must be removed from the Raised Without Antibiotics program.