Will “Antibiotic Use” Be the Next Food Label Category?

Posted on 8th Dec 2017

Most of us know that food labels are becoming more and more important to consumers. According to a survey published by the Food and Drug Administration in 2016, nearly 60 percent of U.S. adults in the country say they read food labels “always” or “most of the time” before making a food product selection.

It’s a reflection of how many Americans are becoming much more concerned about what is in the foods they eat. They see reading labels as the most effective way to help them not only know what is in the food they consume but stay healthy.

Aware of this, some food manufacturers are taking steps to make their food labels and food menus easier to read and less confusing. They are also turning to recipe management systems to make ingredient adjustments—for instance, reducing the amount of sodium in products or using more organic ingredients. These changes will be instantly reflected on the food products label, accommodating the ever-growing number of health-conscious consumers.

A new ordinance in San Francisco, expected to go into effect later this year, may take this even further. Passed unanimously by the city’s Board of Supervisors, a number of the country’s top meat and poultry brands, along with the retailers that sell these products, will need to share information about their antibiotic use if the products are sold in the city.

Initially, this information must be available on a city website. However, what often happens is that the required information will later be posted on food labels so consumers can readily find this information while they shop.

Now, you might ask how does this impact me, especially if I live in, say, Ohio?

It may not, directly, but if the information is posted online, concerned consumers around the country will likely turn to this information when selecting meat and poultry.

Additionally, if the information is posted on food labels, manufacturers often find it less expensive to provide the same information on all similar products marketed throughout the country. One set of food labels for California and another set for Ohio can be costly and cumbersome.

Another question you may have is ‘why is this important?’

It is believed that one reason people are becoming antibiotic resistant to “superbugs” is the high rate of antibiotic use in animals. The Food and Drug Administration has already banned the use of antibiotics for the sole purpose of promoting animal growth. But what we are finding is that ranchers and meat and poultry suppliers are still using a considerable amount of antibiotics as a preventive measure: to keep animals that are often in very close contact from getting illnesses.

And finally, you might ask, is there a growing demand for antibiotic-free meat?

The answer to that is yes. A 2016 report by Nielsen, a research organization, found that the sales of “antibiotic-free meat” have grown by nearly 30 percent each year since 2011. And an earlier report by Consumer Reports found that 86 percent of consumers want meat raised without antibiotics to at least be available in supermarkets.

We won’t know for a while exactly how this ordinance passed in San Francisco will impact the nation’s meat and poultry industry. What we do know is that if this ordinance requires food manufacturers, operators, or retailers to make changes to their food product labels, technologies such as DayMark’s recipe management systems are available that can address these requirements quickly and easily, to meet new regulations as well as customer demand.

For more information on food product labeling technologies, contact a DayMark representative at 866-517-0490.

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