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Truthful Labeling Coalition Welcomes Perdue Farms
Date:12/10/2007

Organization Expands Agenda to Include 'Raised Without Antibiotics'

Labeling

WASHINGTON, Dec. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- Perdue Farms, the nation's third largest poultry producer, has joined the Truthful Labeling Coalition (TLC), an industry and grassroots organization that consists of more than 30,000 concerned citizens from all 50 states and other leading poultry companies including Foster Farms, Gold'n Plump Poultry and Sanderson Farms. The TLC, with the support of leading consumer and health groups, works to ensure the truthful labeling of fresh chicken products so consumers can make informed choices.

"The addition of Perdue strengthens the Truthful Labeling Coalition by extending our representation coast to coast," said Michael Helgeson, chief executive officer of TLC member company Gold'n Plump Poultry. "We are now poised to gain additional support and attention around an issue we believe to be an important consumer right: truthfulness in labeling. The coalition stands ready to tackle the complex issues surrounding the '100% all natural' and 'raised without antibiotics' claims and bring clarity and consistency to the USDA labeling policy."

"Foster Farms is pleased to have Perdue join the coalition. Both Foster Farms and Perdue share an unwavering tradition of producing high quality, natural fresh chicken and we welcome their support in the campaign for truthful labeling," said Ron Foster, chief executive officer of Foster Farms.

"We're delighted to have Perdue join the Truthful Labeling Coalition," said Lampkin Butts, president of Sanderson Farms. "Their help in our effort to encourage USDA to put consumers first when making labeling decisions will be vital and we welcome it."

Committed to the truthful labeling of fresh chicken, the TLC has led an aggressive campaign to urge the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to enforce its existing labeling rules to allow only 100 percent natural chicken, with no additives such as saltwater or seaweed extract, to be labeled as "100% all natural," and has championed the requirement that all added ingredients be prominently displayed on the label. In addition, the organization is challenging the USDA's inconsistent and contradictory decisions on "raised without antibiotics" claims made on labels.

"We are troubled by the USDA's lack of clarity and consistency regarding both the '100% all natural' and 'raised without antibiotics' claims, which is why we decided to lend our support to the TLC's efforts," said Jim Perdue, the third-generation head of privately held Perdue Farms.

In early November the USDA informed Tyson Foods that they could no longer make the "raised without antibiotics" claim on the labels of their fresh chicken. The agency publicly admitted that they had made a mistake when they approved the label language in May 2007, on the grounds that Tyson uses ionophores-compounds currently classified as antibiotics by the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service-in the company's feed. However, the USDA in recent weeks appears to have backed off its decision, reexamining the status of ionophores and entertaining proposals from Tyson to maintain the "raised without antibiotics" claim with the addition of qualifying or conditional

language on their labels. Regrettably, the agency is working to resolve this issue without the input of the entire poultry industry or consumers.

"This matter is far too important for the USDA to explore without input from all interested parties," said Perdue. "Consumers make important purchase decisions for themselves and their families based on the information they read on the label. The USDA must be guided by that trust, and should immediately stop what has become an erosion of confidence in the accurate labeling of food products."

To that end, the Truthful Labeling Coalition is strongly urging the USDA and FDA to adopt a consistent classification of ionophores, and then consistently and fairly apply the final labeling standards. And, like with the "100% all natural" claim, the coalition is firmly against adding any type of qualifying or conditional language around the "raised with no antibiotics" claim as busy consumers don't have time to read complicated fine print.

Case in point: in a national survey of 1,000 consumers conducted earlier this year by Synovate Research company for Gold'n Plump, 40 percent of primary grocery shoppers admitted that they "never" or "only rarely" read the labels of fresh chicken before purchase. And, of the terms on fresh chicken labels, one of the least understood was "solution added."

"Our research has repeatedly shown that qualifying and conditional language only adds clutter and complexity to fresh chicken labels rather than clarity," stated Gold'n Plump's Helgeson. "This issue is not about whether the use of ionophores is good or bad - as science shows appropriate usage is beneficial for poultry welfare and food safety. It is about integrity and clarity in food labels, and having a fair and consistent USDA process for approving label claims."

For more information or to join the TLC's efforts, go to http://www.truthfullabeling.org.


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SOURCE Truthful Labeling Coalition
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