Cargill, Wichita, Kan., is making good on its promise to continue reducing growth-promoting antibiotics from its portfolio with the release of the Honest Turkey antibiotic-free product line.

These products will be differentiated from conventional turkey offerings because they come from turkeys that are never treated with antibiotics.

“Eliminating antibiotic use for disease prevention purposes is the next logical step after ending the use of antibiotics for growth promotion purposes, which we began in 2014,” says Jan Hood, head of marketing for the Cargill turkey business. “Based on consumer research and their desire for transparency in food production, we developed the Honest Turkey product line, which communicates the turkeys are raised without antibiotics.”

“To successfully meet the increasing demand from our customers for antibiotic-free turkey, we start with a larger number of birds than required knowing a percentage may become ill, require antibiotics and be removed from our antibiotic-free turkey program,” adds Tim Maupin, head of turkey agriculture operations. “We have an obligation to treat turkeys that get sick because we want healthy birds and it’s the right thing to do.”

“As part of our decision-making process, we weighed the desires of our customers and consumers to ensure the long-term effectiveness of antibiotics for people and animals, while also maintaining our commitment to the health of turkeys raised for food,” says John Niemann, president of Cargill’s turkey business. “When needed, we believe the judicious use of antibiotics in animal agriculture helps assure a safe food supply. At Cargill, we remain committed to exploring fact-based technologies as alternatives to antibiotics, and to the reduced use of shared-class antibiotics when the efficacy of a given technology has been proven effective and economical.”