A survey conducted for NSF found that 59 percent of consumers prefer products marketed as “antibiotic free.” The growing consumer concern about antibiotic-resistant bacteria and overuse of antibiotics in the food chain has led to the development of the NSF P463: Raised Without Antibiotics protocol. The requirements of this voluntary certification will help farmers and veterinarians work together in addressing this issue. The certification mark also helps consumers identify and purchase animal products such as chicken and other poultry, pork and beef that have been raised without exposure to antibiotics used in human medicine.
When antibiotics are overused on the farm, drug-resistant bacteria can develop in the animal population, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other public health agencies. These antibiotic-resistant bacteria can then spread to humans through raw or undercooked meat products, contaminated food crops and direct contact with livestock.
The program also encourages preventive measures such as vaccination, alternative treatments, litter management techniques and appropriate living conditions to maintain the health and welfare of the animals. If sick animals require antibiotics for treatment, they can receive veterinary care but they must be removed from the Raised Without Antibiotics certification program.
Certification for antibiotic free products can be granted to animals raised for meat, poultry, seafood, dairy and eggs. The certification provides independent verification of on-package claims. Concerned about the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria? Look for the Raised Without Antibiotics certification mark.