The U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) this week issued a voluntary standard for naturally raised livestock and meat marketing claims. The standard will be published as a notice in the Federal Register and is titled "United States Standards for Livestock and Meat Marketing Claims, Naturally Raised Claim for Livestock and the Meat and Meat Products Derived from such Livestock."
The naturally raised marketing claim standard states that livestock used for the production of meat and meat products have been raised entirely without growth promotants, antibiotics (except for ionophores used as coccidiostats for parasite control) and have never been fed animal by-products. The voluntary standard will establish the minimum requirements for those producers who choose to operate a USDA-verified program involving a naturally raised claim.
USDA analyzed over 44,000 comments from producers, processors, consumers and other interested parties in the development of this standard.
The American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) commented specifically on the use of coccidiostats with animals designated natural.
In its comments, ASI stated, "The proposed standards for 'naturally raised' claims are generally consistent with current industry practices with one primary exception, the prohibition of coccidiostats. The prevention and/or treatment of coccidiosis in sheep is considered by the industry and veterinarians to be necessary for the health and general well being of lambs as is the prevention and treatment of other types of parasitism."