False labeling claims in Whole Foods’ “raised without antibiotics” beef



April 8, 2022

Media Contact: Dee Laninga, dlaninga, 202-450-0094

Farm Groups Urge USDA to Investigate Whole Foods’ “Antibiotic-Free” Claims for Public Safety and Market Fairness

Washington, D.C. — Today Farm Action and the American Grassfed Association called on the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) to take immediate action in response to the reported presence of antibiotics in cattle and meat from a USDA-approved no-antibiotics labeling program sold by Whole Foods. In testing a slaughterhouse that processes “raised without antibiotics” cattle for the retailer, a study published by Science Magazine yielded significant positive antibiotic tests. An investigation from the organization Farm Forward also discovered antibiotic-positive meat on Whole Foods’ shelves.

Farm Action and American Grassfed Association’s letter to the FSIS described the pressing need for immediate action: FSIS should swiftly request a recall of the meat in question. If Whole Foods refuses to recall its misleadingly-labeled meat, FSIS should use its legal authority to detain and seize it.

The groups further urged an investigation of the entire Whole Foods supply chain, including the retail stores, slaughter plants, and feedlots that claim to produce antibiotic-free meat. The investigation must be this thorough in order to discover the source and responsible parties.

“Labels should mean what they say,” said Angela Huffman, Vice President and Co-Founder of Farm Action. “When they are false or misleading, people can get sick, cheaters profit, and farmers working hard to comply with the rules lose money and market opportunities.”

“American Grassfed formed over the issue of truth in labeling,” said Carrie Balkcom, Executive Director for the American Grassfed Association. “We’re reaching out to FSIS now in pursuit of real accountability and oversight.”

Only a recall, thorough investigation, and appropriate penalties will protect consumers and those farmers who do comply with the antibiotic-free claims. Failure to take these steps perpetuates a system that rewards deceit and endangers consumers.


Farm Action leverages its research, policy development, advocacy campaigns, and political expertise to create a food and agriculture system that works for everyday people rather than a handful of powerful corporations. We are joined in our movement by farmers, ranchers, rural communities, food system workers, policymakers, advocates, and