Consumer Reports: Foods that claim no antibiotics

More people are buying chicken and beef with labels that promise no antibiotics according to a nationally-representative Consumer Reports survey. The trend comes out of concerns about antibiotic resistance.

But what do the “no antibiotics” labels really mean? Consumer Reports says you’d be surprised.

Restaurant owner Leslie Lampert says she makes every effort to make sure the meat for her restaurant is locally produced and raised without antibiotics.

“Does it cost more? Yes. But do I feel great at the end of every night knowing it’s more healthful, yes,” Lampert said.

Research shows there is a connection between the overuse of antibiotics in food animals and drug resistant infections in people.

“In other words, our arsenal of antibiotics may no longer work to kill bacteria that cause certain illnesses. We calculate that about 1 in 5 people who got an antibiotic resistant infection got it from something they ate,” Consumer Reports Health Editor Trisha Calvo said.

To avoid antibiotic treated animals, check the labels carefully.

A label that says “no growth promoting antibiotics” means those used to enable quicker weight gain. But if you look at the much smaller print, you’ll see that antibiotics might still have been used in this turkey to treat or prevent illness.

Another twist is that some fast food restaurants, like KFC, Taco Bell and Wendy’s, promise that now or soon they will only serve poultry that is raised “without antibiotics important to human medicine”, meaning none that are given to people.

“Eliminating medically important antibiotics does help thwart antibiotic resistance. But it’s not as good as eliminating all antibiotic use in healthy animals,” Calvo said.

Your best bet is to look for labels that say “never given antibiotics”, “no antibiotics ever” or “raised without antibiotics”.

So does the label “organic” automatically mean the meat was raised without antibiotics? Look for the USDA organic seal for organic products.

To kill bacteria of any kind always be sure to cook chicken to an internal temperature of 165 degrees and steak to 145 degrees. Ground beef should reach 160 degrees.

All Consumer Reports material Copyright 2017 Consumer Reports, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not-for-profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit

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