The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA’s FSIS) and USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) have launched a new exploratory sampling program for antibiotic residues in cattle that are claimed to be raised without antibiotics.

Establishments that are eligible for the sampling program are those that slaughter cattle and are producing products are labeled with “No Antibiotics,” “No Antibiotics Ever,” “Raised Without Antibiotics,” “Antibiotic Free,” “No Antibiotics Administered,” or related claims. FSIS will collect liver and kidney samples from eligible cattle, and ARS will analyze the samples using a method that targets more than 180 veterinary drugs from various major classes of antibiotics.  

If antibiotic residues are detected, FSIS will issue a letter to the establishment concerning the sample results and will advise the establishment to conduct a root cause analysis and take actions to prevent misbranded product in commerce. If an establishment does not receive a letter, their test results are negative and consistent with the labeling claim.

The results of this sampling will help inform whether FSIS should require that laboratory testing results be submitted for the “raised without antibiotics” claim or whether the agency should start a new verification sampling program.