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USDA revokes OK for Tyson chicken labels

USDA revokes OK for Tyson chicken labels

(AP) – The U.S. Department of Agriculture has told Tyson Foods Inc. to stop selling chicken as ‘raised without antibiotics’ after the agency said it made a mistake in approving that label, but Tyson disputed the finding Monday and hopes to win approval for a modified label.

The world’s largest meat processor said it has been in discussions with the USDA since at least September about the label it introduced this summer in a major marketing campaign for its fresh chicken.

According to a Nov. 6 letter from the USDA, the agency told Tyson it had mistakenly overlooked a feed additive for Tyson’s chicken when it approved the no-antibiotics label.

Springdale, Ark.-based Tyson said Monday that the additives, called ionophores, are not antibiotics. The USDA said in its letter that the agency’s food safety arm considered ionophores to be antibiotics.

Tyson spokesman Gary Mickelson said the company plans to submit for USDA approval a new label that still says ‘raised without antibiotics’ but adds some qualifying language about ionophores.

The USDA has given Tyson a temporary stay of 45 days from Nov. 6 to submit a new label and new arguments, to change its feed formula, or to stop using the label. Tyson said it expects no disruption in supplies to consumers.

Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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