SupermarketNews – Awareness of the issue of antibiotics and growth hormones is high, with 79% of Midan respondents having heard of antibiotics’ use in meat production and 85% having heard about growth hormones. Forty-one percent of respondents said they were concerned about negative effects of antibiotics and 42% about the effects of growth hormones.
“I think that for retailers in particular that’s a matter of making sure they’re a conduit of information from the supplier to the consumer. All too often consumers as we learned in the Meat Matters research have a deeply embedded perception of something that is not factual,” said Amstein.
“So if they’re sharing that in the grocery store or they are asking that based on a misperception, the retailers can help themselves and the suppliers and the consumers by correcting misinformation.”
Amstein said that 44% of customers couldn’t accurately define antibiotics or growth hormones.
The Consumers Union found that associates in some large chains did not have correct information about the meat offerings.
Seattle-based PCC Natural Markets, an independent, has strict requirements for its meat products and makes sure to share the information with in-store signs and other printed materials, according to Trudy Bialic, director of public affairs at PCC.
One requirement is that meat must be from animals raised without hormones or antibiotics. “We also keep our shoppers informed about research and legislation related to meat, poultry and seafood standards.”
The Consumers Union has been campaigning to convince 13 large supermarket chains to go antibiotic-free, arguing that the farm industry overuses antibiotics and hurts the efficacy of these drugs in humans, according to Director of Food Policy Initiatives Jean Halloran. Of the 13 chains, Whole Foods Market is the only one to offer exclusively antibiotic and hormone-free meat.
“The Food and Drug Administration is not taking a strong stance on this … They’ve asked for the drug companies and the livestock producers to voluntarily phase out over three years use for growth promotion, but according to the industry, that growth promotion use only constitutes 15% of all antibiotics used in livestock production,” said Halloran.
Industry groups like the pork board argue that veterinarians help develop antibiotic doses for farm animals, and Sutton noted that the pork industry works closely with government agencies on the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System. “There has never been a case of treatment failure in a person that has been shown to be the result of antibiotic use in animals,” he said.
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