Animal Welfare

“At Oscar Mayer, we believe in the humane treatment of animals in our supply chain, and will continue to make animal welfare a priority. Although we do not own or operate farms, we choose to only work with suppliers who share our standards of treating animals with care, understanding and respect."


-Dr. Larry Sadler

Associate Director of Animal Welfare

 

Antibiotics

We believe that when an animal gets sick, the humane thing to do may include giving antibiotics to help them return to good health. Not only is that what’s best for the animal, it also helps make our food better and safer.

Understanding Animal Antibiotics

Making sure antibiotics remain safe and effective is an important responsibility shared by many. That includes farmers, veterinarians, animal health companies and OSCAR MAYER.

Why do Farmers Give Animals Antibiotics?

Just like people, animals sometimes get sick. When they do, their treatment may include antibiotics. Providing medical care is the ethical and humane thing to do. Plus, it helps keep our food safe.

Since 1968, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been approving and monitoring antibiotics used to treat, control and prevent sickness in animals raised for food. Every antibiotic approved must pass rigorous testing to meet specific safety and effectiveness standards.

How Much Antibiotic is Given to an Animal?

The FDA sets standards that let farmers know exactly how much medication to give to help an animal recover from an illness.
 

The FDA, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the food industry agree: Antibiotics should be used responsibly and under the direct supervision of a veterinarian—like a family doctor prescribes antibiotics to people.

Is Meat from Animals Treated with Antibiotics Safe to Eat?

Yes, it’s safe. Farmers are required to follow FDA standards for how much time needs to pass for medication to clear an animal’s system, known as withdrawal times. Farmers keep detailed records to make sure they’re complying with these requirements.

That means any animal treated with medication won’t enter the food supply until it is totally safe. 

How Can I be Sure There Are No Antibiotics in Meat?

To ensure antibiotics have cleared the animal’s system, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) works with the FDA and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to routinely test samples at plants.
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We believe antibiotics are essential for people and animals both now and in the future. That’s why it is important they are used responsibly and with proper safeguards. OSCAR MAYER requires its suppliers to follow either the AVMA’s or World Organization for Animal Health’s recommendations on the judicious use of antibiotics in animals.

Q&A

We understand people want to know more about how their food is made. Here are some common questions about antibiotics.

No, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards let farmers know exactly how much time needs to pass to allow any medication to be broken down and clear an animal’s system, known as withdrawal times. Farmers keep detailed records to make sure they’re complying with these requirements. This means any animal treated with medication will not enter our food supply until it is totally safe. 

To ensure antibiotics have cleared the animal’s system, the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) works with the FDA and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to routinely test samples at plants.
Just like people, animals sometimes get sick. When they do, their treatment may include antibiotics. Providing medical care is the ethical and humane thing to do. Plus, it helps keep our food safe.

The FDA, USDA, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the food industry agree antibiotics should be used as approved by the FDA under the supervision of a veterinarian—like a family doctor prescribes antibiotics to people.
No. Antibiotic resistance happens when bacteria become resistant to the effects of an antibiotic after being exposed to it, not from meat consumption.

The CDC has confirmed none of the most urgent public health threats from antibiotic-resistant bacteria have any relation to farm animals. Regardless, OSCAR MAYER believes the responsible use of antibiotics is important and we take that responsibility seriously.
We understand that food labels can sometimes be confusing. The phrase “No Antibiotics Ever” means the animal has never received antibiotics. If an animal in our supply chain gets sick and needs antibiotics to ease suffering, the animal is treated and moved out of the “No Antibiotics Ever” supply chain. We know some people prefer to purchase products with a “No Antibiotics Ever” label, and that is why we offer options within our OSCAR MAYER Natural line. Regardless, all OSCAR MAYER products are safe to enjoy.

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Animal Housing

Housing

At OSCAR MAYER, we believe quality meat begins with quality care, and providing animals with the right housing is an important part of that care. 

Understanding Farm Animal Housing

We recognize animal housing is constantly changing and evolving, and using a variety of different systems fosters innovation and best practices.

How are OSCAR MAYER Animals Housed?

OSCAR MAYER does not own or operate any farms, but the farms we source from rely on science-based industry best practices and housing systems that provide proper humane animal care.

We support good housing systems that provide animals with The Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare: 

  • Freedom from hunger or thirst
  • Freedom from discomfort
  • Freedom from pain, injury or disease
  • Freedom to express natural behaviors
  • Freedom from fear and distress

How is an Animal’s Housing Determined?

When farmers are determining the best kind of housing for their animals, they must take into account several factors including animal health and well-being, weather protection, disease control, predator protection, economic feasibility and in-herd aggression.

Similar to humans, animals need shelter. Many animals are housed inside barns to protect them from harm and extreme weather while maintaining proper temperatures and allowing easy access to food and water. Barns also facilitate more routine observation and care.
 

What do Farmers Consider When Providing for Animal Comfort?

A well-managed housing system can provide animal comfort while optimizing health and safety. It can also allow animals to express their natural behaviors while minimizing environmental threats.

In addition to ensuring animals are provided The Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare, our suppliers conduct ongoing third-party audits, bringing in outside experts to assess the welfare of their animals. They use the results to support continuous improvement. 
 

What Does OSCAR MAYER do to Improve Animal Housing?

We are working to help the next generation of animal welfare experts through the support of animal welfare research at The Ohio State University, University of Wisconsin – River Falls, University of Pennsylvania, University of Guelph and National Pork Board.

Additionally, OSCAR MAYER has committed to transitioning away from the use of traditional sow gestation stalls in its supply chain by 2025. Traditional sow gestation stalls, which separate sows during pregnancy, are often cramped and allow limited movement, which can get uncomfortable for the pig. OSCAR MAYER and its supplying partners will transition to alternative sow housing with more space while maintaining quality individual care and protection.

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Every housing system includes some trade-offs. We believe it is important to continuously evaluate the latest developments in animal housing.

Q&A

We understand people want to know more about how their food is made. Here are some common questions about animal housing.

OSCAR MAYER does not own or operate any farms, but we expect our suppliers to adhere to science-based industry best practices and housing systems to provide proper animal care.

We support good housing systems that provide animals with The Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare: 

Freedom from hunger or thirst
Freedom from discomfort
Freedom from pain, injury or disease
Freedom to express natural behaviors
Freedom from fear and distress

When farmers are determining the best kind of housing for their animals, they must take into account several factors including animal health and well-being, weather protection, disease control, predator protection, economic feasibility and in-herd aggression.

Similar to humans, animals need shelter. Many animals are housed inside barns to protect them from harm and extreme weather while maintaining proper temperatures and allowing easy access to food and water. Barns also facilitate more routine observation and care.
A well-managed housing system can provide animal comfort while optimizing health and safety. It can also allow animals to express their natural behaviors while minimizing environmental threats.

In addition to ensuring animals are provided The Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare, our suppliers conduct ongoing third-party audits, bringing in outside experts to assess the welfare of their animals. They use the results to support continuous improvement. 
We are working to help the next generation of animal welfare experts through the support of animal welfare research at The Ohio State University, University of Wisconsin – River Falls, University of Pennsylvania, University of Guelph and National Pork Board.

Additionally, OSCAR MAYER has committed to transitioning away from the use of traditional sow gestation stalls in its supply chain by 2025. Traditional sow gestation stalls, which separate sows during pregnancy, are often cramped and allow limited movement, which can get uncomfortable for the pig. OSCAR MAYER and its supplying partners will transition to alternative sow housing with more space while maintaining quality individual care and protection.
 There is no legal definition of “humanely raised” and the USDA does not regulate animal welfare, so each label you see has its own standards defining “humane.” OSCAR MAYER expects its suppliers to adhere to government regulations and to industry standards established by the following organizations:

Next

Animal Hormones

Hormone Use in Animals

Hormones are found naturally in all living things and are essential to life. The use of hormone supplements in cattle helps produce beef that is lean, affordable and sustainable. While studies conclude hormone supplements in cattle are safe for animals and for us, we support ongoing efforts to further demonstrate the safety and usefulness of supplemental hormones.

Understanding Hormone Use in Animals

Hormones are naturally-occurring and found in all living things, including plants, animals and people. They’re natural internal messengers, sending signals that direct important cell and tissue action, like growth and development.

OSCAR MAYER aligns with this industry-wide standard set by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA): our beef comes from cattle treated with supplemental hormones, but our pork, chicken and turkey comes from animals that are never given supplemental hormones.

Why do Farmers Give Cattle Supplemental Hormones?

Hormones improve cattle’s ability to build muscle instead of fat, to produce more lean meat.

The result is a smaller carbon footprint and more affordable beef for Americans, since the use of hormones minimizes waste and reduces water, land and feed requirements.

How do Hormones Work in Cattle?

Hormone supplements are given as a small pellet placed under the skin in the back side of the ear. Released slowly over time, they enable cattle to make better use of the nutrients in their feed.

As a result, animals grow more lean muscle while minimizing fat deposits.

Am I Consuming Hormones When I Eat Meat?

All living things naturally contain hormones, so they’re found in nearly everything we eat. You consume hormones when eating beef, beans, salad, bread and more, and all are safe.

Additionally, only OSCAR MAYER beef products come from meat raised using supplemental hormones. All other OSCAR MAYER products, including turkey, chicken and pork, do not come from animals raised with supplemental hormones.

Do Hormones Used in Raising Cattle Affect My Health?

Our first priority at OSCAR MAYER is being sure everything we make is safe and wholesome. We think it’s important to know that since the 1950s, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has monitored and approved the use of hormones in beef.

Extensive studies have concluded that hormones do not harm cattle or the environment, and beef from cattle given hormones is safe for people to eat.

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Supplemental hormones are an important tool for raising safe, affordable and sustainable beef. We, and others in the food industry, regularly evaluate and monitor the use of hormones in beef to ensure they are safe for each animal and safe for us.

Q&A

We understand people want to know more about how their food is made. Here are some common questions about hormones.

Hormones are naturally present in all living things, including plants, animals and people. They play an essential role, acting as messengers to direct important cell and tissue action, like growth and development. 

Since the 1950s, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a number of supplemental hormones for use in beef cattle. Farmers use approved hormone supplements—a negligible amount to humans—to help cattle convert more of their feed into beef rather than fat. This allows farmers to raise leaner, more affordable beef while providing environmental benefits.
The use of hormones provides numerous economic and environmental benefits. Hormones improve cattle’s natural ability to convert their diet into more lean muscle instead of fat, which helps make beef leaner and more affordable for the average American family. Plus, the use of hormones provides environmental benefits, improving the sustainability of beef by reducing waste, water, land and feed, as well as carbon footprint. 
Hormones, in the form of a small pellet, are placed under the skin in the back side of the animal’s ear. As the pellet dissolves slowly over several months, it enables cattle to better use the nutrients in their feed. As a result, animals grow more lean muscle while minimizing fat deposits.
All living things naturally contain hormones, and therefore are found in nearly everything we eat. You consume hormones when eating beef, beans, salad, bread and more, and all are safe. 

Estrogen is one of the most commonly used hormones in raising cattle. Hormone levels in supplemented and non-supplemented beef are nearly identical (a difference of two billionths of a gram) and much lower than numerous other foods. Therefore, hormone levels in beef are negligible to humans, and the beef products are safe to enjoy.
Estrogen in Common Foods
Food
Estrogen Amount

Tofu 113,500,000 ng/500g
Pinto Beans 113,500,000 ng/500g
White Bread 113,500,000 ng/500g
Peanuts 113,500,000 ng/500g
Butter 113,500,000 ng/500g
Milk 113,500,000 ng/500g
Beef from Supplemented Steer 7 ng/500g
Beef from Non-Supplemented Steer 5 ng/500g
Hoffman and Eversol (1986), Hartman et al (1998), Shore and Shemesh (2003), USDA-ARS (2002). Units are nanograms of estrone plus estradiol for animal products and isoflavones for plant products per 500 grams of food.
Estrogen Production in Humans and Potential Estrogen Intake from Supplemented Beef
Item
Estrogen Amount

Pregnant Women 19,600,000ng/day
Non-Pregnant Women 513,000 ng/day
Adult Men 136,000 ng/day
Children 41,000 ng/day
500g of Beef from Supplemented Cattle 7 ng
Hoffman and Eversol (1986).
No. They have been proven safe. These products are regulated by the FDA, and since the 1950s, the FDA has monitored and approved the use of hormones when raising beef cattle. Extensive studies have concluded that hormones do not harm cattle or the environment, and beef from cattle given hormones is safe for people to eat. 
We want to make our food labels as easy to understand as possible. The phrase “No Added Hormones” applies to all pork and poultry products, including those from OSCAR MAYER, since those animals are never given hormones. OSCAR MAYER includes the “No Added Hormones” language on our Natural labels to remind consumers this is the case. 

Some beef is raised with supplemental hormones, including OSCAR MAYER beef products. The hormone levels in beef, both from supplemented and non-supplemented cattle, are similarly low, with a difference of only two billionths of a gram. This is negligible to humans and safe to enjoy.
Hormones have not proven to be as practical and effective when given to pigs, chickens or turkeys. As a result, there are currently no FDA-approved hormones for use in these species.

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Animal Environment

Protecting Our Natural Resources

Everything has an environmental impact and eating is no exception. Growing, producing and transporting food uses land, fuel and water, and we believe reducing these resource needs minimizes our impact today while preserving natural resources for future generations. OSCAR MAYER and our supplying partners are committed to finding new and better ways to reduce our environmental footprint. A lot of progress has been made, but there’s still work to be done.

What Effect Does Raising Cattle, Pigs and Poultry Have on our Climate?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the entire agriculture sector (not just raising animals) accounts for 9% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. To put that in perspective, the transportation industry accounts for 26% and homes and businesses account for 12%.

Even so, farmers are always looking for ways to minimize their environmental impact. For example, improvements in animal nutrition and fertilizer have helped farmers raise more meat without increasing greenhouse gas emissions.

What Effect Does Raising Cattle, Pigs and Poultry Have on our Water Supply?

Water is a vital resource for our operations worldwide, and we’re constantly looking for new ways to conserve water to protect one of our earth’s most precious resources.

We implement conservation efforts in a lot of ways, from recycling water and installing new technologies to upgrading water treatment plants.

What Effect Does Raising Cattle, Pigs and Poultry Have on our Land?

We also know another byproduct of improved crop growth techniques is reduced land use. As crop yields have improved, the amount of land required to grow food for raising cattle, pigs and poultry has significantly declined.

Plus, farmers work closely with nutritionists to make sure their animal feed provides all the necessary calories, vitamins and minerals to optimize the animal’s health. This means fewer resources are used to provide the same amount of care with less impact on our land and soil.

Are There Any Environmental Benefits of Raising Farm Animals?

Yes, cattle are uniquely suited to get the most out of grasslands, which are unsuitable for growing crops. In fact, according to the USDA, about 85 percent of U.S. land is not suitable for growing crops. By raising cattle on this land, farmers double the amount of land that is useful for growing food.

Additionally, animal waste has valuable nutrients that are recycled to improve soil health.

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OSCAR MAYER recognizes finding farming practices that preserve natural resources is important to us all. From our quality controls to our supplier relationships, we’re committed to sustainable practices extending to every facet of our business, and continuous evaluation to find better ways. While we’ve made significant progress in this area, it’s a shared responsibility that we continue to pursue.

Q&A

We understand people want to know more about how their food is made. Here are some common questions about animals and the environment.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the entire agriculture sector (not just raising animals) accounts for nine percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. To put that in perspective, the transportation industry accounts for 26 percent and homes and businesses account for 12 percent.

Even so, farmers are always looking for ways to minimize their environmental impact. For example, improvements in animal nutrition and fertilizer have helped farmers raise more meat without increasing greenhouse gas emissions.

As a result, while meat production rose 50 percent between 1990 and 2014, agriculture's greenhouse gas emissions stayed nearly flat.
Water is a vital resource for our operations worldwide, and we’re constantly looking for new ways to conserve water to protect one of our earth’s most precious resources. We implement conservation efforts in a lot of ways, from recycling water and installing new technologies to upgrading water treatment plants. 
We also know another byproduct of improved crop growth techniques is reduced land use. As crop yields have improved, the amount of land required to grow food for raising cattle, pigs and poultry has significantly declined.

Plus, farmers work closely with nutritionists to make sure their animal feed provides all the necessary calories, vitamins and minerals to optimize the animal’s health. This means fewer resources are used to provide the same amount of care with less impact on our land and soil.

From 1977 to 2007, the amount of land needed to produce a pound of beef dropped by more than 33 percent, and farmers reduced by 78 percent the cropland required to bring a pound of pork to market from 1959 to 2009 (most recent data available).
Yes, cattle are uniquely suited to get the most out of grasslands, which are unsuitable for growing crops. In fact, according to the USDA, about 85 percent of U.S. land is not suitable for growing crops. By raising cattle on this land, farmers double the amount of land that is useful for growing food.

Additionally, animal waste has valuable nutrients that are recycled to improve soil health. 

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Animal Antibiotics