Meat & Livestock News

USDA’s FSIS Initiates Antibiotics Sampling Program

The US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), in collaboration with the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS), has commenced a new exploratory sampling scheme. 

This initiative aims to determine the presence of antibiotic residues in cattle that are marketed under the “raised without antibiotics (RWA)” label.

This move by the FSIS was first made public in June to reinforce the validation of various animal-raising claims. 

The establishments that qualify for this program process cattle and sell products with RWA claims. These claims include labels such as “No Antibiotics,” “Antibiotic Free,” “Raised Without Antibiotics,” and similar assertions.

To conduct the assessment, liver and kidney samples will be taken from the eligible cattle. The ARS will then analyse these samples using a technique that can detect over 180 veterinary drugs spanning various major antibiotic classes. 

If antibiotic residues are identified, the FSIS will notify the establishment, recommending a thorough analysis to determine the root cause and to prevent the sale of incorrectly labelled products. 

Conversely, if no such letter is received by the establishment, it indicates that the test results were negative.

The FSIS highlighted that the outcomes of this sampling would guide future decisions. It will determine whether establishments should provide laboratory test results for the RWA claim or if the FSIS should introduce a new verification sampling program. 

It’s worth noting that the FSIS had previously revised its guidelines related to “grass-fed” and “free-range” claims back in 2019.