Drug residues found in meat labeled antibiotic-free

A consumer class action, joined by the non-profit organization Farm Forward, sued Whole Food (chain acquired by Amazon) for misleading advertising: the prosecution claims antibiotics have been detected in beef sold as "organic" and "antibiotic-free".    

The analyses, carried out by Farm Forward in April 2022, detected residues of an antibiotic that can be used to promote growth in cattle. The results were confirmed by a peer-reviewed study, published in Science, that underscored the need to ensure the integrity of labeling claims. The article presented empirical evidence that a significant percentage—up to 22 percent—of cattle within the Animal Welfare Certified™ program, which is used by Whole Foods, have come from feed yards where testing suggests antibiotics were administered routinely.      

“We have hard evidence not only that meat on Whole Foods shelves could be marketed deceptively as antibiotic free, but that the problem extends to the entire industry,” says Andrew deCoriolis, Executive Director of Farm Forward. “Industry insiders know that meat is being marketed deceptively as “antibiotic free.”  

According to Farm Forward, 75% of consumers are willing to pay more to buy antibiotic-free meat, the price of which can be 20% higher than conventional meat. Moreover, there are incentives for farms that do not use antibiotics. The organization is now demanding that Whole Foods compensate consumers for misleading them and change the way it markets and presents its products. Additionally, Farm Forward wants retailers implicated in profiting from consumer deception to fund an independent watchdog agency to assist supermarkets in fighting meat industry misinformation.  

Whole Foods, on the other hand, has been claiming for over forty years that all animals in its supply chain are raised without antibiotics and has not yet responded to these recent allegations.