Consumers Union (CU) questions USDA:
We have long urged USDA to take steps to formally establish a meaningful, transparent and clear standard behind the “no antibiotics used” label claims. In 2002, the USDA unsuccessfully attempted to define “no antibiotics used” and never completed the process. In February 2009, Consumers Union reiterated our concerns about the lack of a formal definition to Secretary Vilsack. Specifically, we urge the USDA to formally define the claim as meaning no antibiotics and no ionophores were used for the lifetime of the animal.
For example, the claim “no antibiotic residues” may not mean that the animals were raised without antibiotics. In fact, the animals could have received antibiotics for much of their life, but then been taken off the drugs before slaughter – as is often required by law for animals destined for human consumption – so that there is no, or very little, remaining residue in the meat.