Cargill is eliminating 20 percent of shared-class antibiotics, which are deemed important for both human and animal health uses, from its four feed yards in Texas, Kansas and Colorado, and from four additional feed yards operated by Friona Industries, a strategic business partner that supplies cattle for the company.
The decision follows evaluation of both existing third party research and research previously conducted by the company regarding reduced antibiotic use, as well as evaluated customer and consumer input. The total number of cattle involved annually is approximately 1.2 million.
“Our decision to eliminate 20 percent of the antibiotics used in our beef cattle, which are also used for human health, took into consideration customer and consumer desires to help ensure the long-term medical effectiveness of antibiotics for both people and animals,” stated John Keating, president of Cargill’s Wichita-based beef business. “We need to balance those desires with our commitment to ensure the health of animals raised for food, which contributes to the production of safer food.”
Implementation of this decision builds upon Cargill’s 2014 decision to eliminate growth promoting antibiotics from its U.S. turkey business, underscoring the company’s stated commitment to reduce the use of human antibiotics in food production, and the company continues to explore alternatives to antibiotics that could further reduce their use in beef cattle.
“Scientific research and yet-to-be-discovered innovative technologies could certainly help us further reduce, or eliminate, the need for antibiotics in the beef supply chain,” said Keating.
Cargill is also collaborating with cattle ranchers, researchers, universities and allied partners to identify production practices and viable alternatives that could result in further reduction in the use of medicines for food animal production. In an effort to increase transparency about their practices, including antibiotic use, the company’s newly created webpage works to directly communicate with consumers about these important topics.
“Accountability and credibility are crucial to the success of our long-term efforts to produce nutritious, affordable, wholesome and sustainable beef products our customers and consumers want to purchase and enjoy,” said Keating.