Sustaining Our World – 2017 Sustainability Report

Committing to Reduce
Antibiotic Use

We’ve committed to being part of the solution that addresses stakeholder concerns about antibiotic resistance and the impact of antibiotics on animal well-being.

FY2017 was a landmark year in our efforts to significantly reduce the use of antibiotics in the animal-raising practices behind our Tyson® branded products and through the non-Tyson® brands we choose to produce and market. Our progress included:

Shared-Class Antibiotics
Used in Broiler Chicken

  • Total chickens raised without shared-class antibiotics: 95.81%
  • Purchased feed that included shared-class antibiotics: 3.3%
  • Tyson Foods chickens treated on farms by veterinarians with shared-class antibiotics: 0.89%
  • Transitioning all Tyson® branded retail chicken products to No Antibiotics Ever (NAE), making us the world’s largest producer of NAE products
  • Converting 87 of the Tyson Foodservice Tyson® branded products to chickens raised with no antibiotics
  • Transitioning all of Tyson K-12 commodity-eligible poultry products to NAE (and No Artificial Ingredients) for the 2018-2019 school year
  • Producing and marketing organic chicken raised without antibiotics under the Nature Raised Farms® brand, as well as beef and pork raised without antibiotics under the Open Prairie® Natural brand
  • Funding research to examine the impacts of removing tylosin, an antibiotic and bacteriostatic feed additive, from finishing cattle, by studying the performance of roughage on cattle growth and health

We also made significant progress toward our goal stated in 2015 to end the use of all shared-class antibiotics in our broiler chicken flocks. “Shared-class” antibiotics are antibiotics used to treat illnesses in both classes — humans and animals, and most antibiotics fall under shared-class. Less than 1 percent (0.89 percent) of the broiler chicks placed by Tyson Foods during FY2017 were treated on farms by veterinarians with shared-class antibiotics. When necessary to minimize suffering and control disease, we treat sick chicken flocks with shared-class antibiotics. These products, however, are not sold under the NAE label.

Through improved breeding, sanitation, animal husbandry, housing techniques and the use of antibiotic alternatives such as probiotics, botanicals and essential oils, we continue to reduce the need for the use of shared-class antibiotics.

The typical treatment time for shared-class antibiotics is between three to five days as opposed to the entire life cycle of the chicken. Shared-class antibiotics are prescribed by veterinarians and administered to broiler chickens by adding them to drinking water, as it is not feasible to administer to chickens individually. When antibiotics are used, we follow strict withdrawal periods before the animals are processed for food. To ensure that no antibiotics end up in customer products, the U.S. Department of Agriculture regularly tests chicken for antibiotic residue.

Getting to know our farmers

Farmer Jacque Smith talks about being a poultry farmer for Tyson Foods.

Because our chicken operations are vertically integrated, we have more visibility into our poultry supply chain, and are thus better able to directly manage the use of antibiotics in our poultry flocks. We depend on guidance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on responsible antibiotic use within our cattle, hog and the majority of our turkey operations. We continue to work closely with our independent suppliers to support education and awareness of new regulations and best practices around the use of antibiotics, as well as research associated with antibiotic alternatives.

Steroids and Hormone Use

As federal law prohibits the use of added hormones or steroids in chicken or turkey, no hormones or steroids are added to the chickens and turkeys raised by our independent suppliers.

Federal law also prohibits the use of added hormones or hormone growth promotants (HGPs) in hog production. Because we require our suppliers to comply with federal law, we expect hogs purchased from our independent farming partners to be free of these supplements.

Federal law does allow cattle farmers to utilize small amounts of hormones to increase lean weight gain rates in cattle. Stringent tolerance levels for beef hormones have been established by the Food and Drug Administration, and the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the USDA regularly tests beef for hormone residues.