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This Drug Has Sickened Thousands of Animals – Will It Be At Your Holiday Feast?

I have been to countless holiday meals when I had no control over the ingredients. Of course, I ate what was offered and was polite but knowing what I know now about what’s really in food – it’s hard for me to just shut up and take it. The more we shut up and take it, the more disgusting things like what I am about to share with you continue to happen. That’s why I am sharing these important facts about how to avoid drugged up turkeys this holiday season.

I know it’s tempting this time of year when you get coupons from the grocery store offering a whole turkey for FREE in exchange for shopping in their store. These “FREE” store-brand turkeys generally aren’t free of antibiotics and are raised on a diet of GMOs. Most conventionally raised (non-organic) turkeys are pumped full of antibiotics, and this overuse of antibiotics is creating a major human health issue. Thankfully, because so many of us have raised concerns, including government agencies like the CDC, meat companies are beginning to transition away from using antibiotics. Hopefully in a few years the abusive use of unnecessary growth-promoting antibiotics will be a thing of the past! 

But, there’s something else that deserves your full attention.

There is another drug that is permitted to be fed to turkeys in the U.S. that is banned in dozens of countries due to health issues. You won’t find it on the label, it’s been shown to leave residues in the meat, and the meat companies are not required to tell you whether they use it.


I’m talking about Topmax (otherwise known as Ractopamine).

Ractopamine is a growth enhancing drug that’s fed to some turkeys to increase their muscle mass. Basically, it’s used to make big turkeys look perfect for a big Holiday feast. We’ve been conditioned to think that “bigger is better” – but when it comes to turkey, its not! 

This drug has been shown to cause horrible health problems (and even the death of) animals, as can be witnessed by it’s rampant use on pigs during the last decade. As reported by NBC News, “Since it was introduced, ractopamine had sickened or killed more than 218,000 pigs as of March 2011, more than any other animal drug on the market, a review of FDA veterinary records shows. Pigs suffered from hyperactivity, trembling, broken limbs, inability to walk and death, according to FDA reports released under a Freedom of Information Act request.”

It’s fed to some conventional turkeys, and we might be eating it too.

Residues of ractopamine have been found in meat samples tested by the USDA and Consumer Reports. This is because there’s no mandatory withdrawal period for the drug, which can be fed to turkeys right up until the day they are slaughtered. The FDA established some “safe maximum residue limits” (MRLs) for ractopamine residue, so they are allowing some of this residue to remain in the meat sold at the store. Most meat is never tested for ractopamine residues, so it’s anyone’s guess how much we are really eating. That’s frightening, considering that ractopamine carries a bold warning label that states: 


Label for TopmaxWhy is this permitted?

The FDA has allowed widespread use of ractopamine in turkey feed since its approval in 2008. This led the Animal Legal Defense Fund and the Center For Food Safety to file a legal petition with FDA demanding that they conduct comprehensive scientific studies that document the risks of ractopamine to human and animal health – because clearly more needed to be done before it gained FDA approval. The FDA approved ractopamine based on safety studies submitted by the company that makes it (Elanco), which is standard for most food and drugs on the market, and have reportedly refused to share their records. To date, ractopamine is still allowed to be fed to turkeys, cows, and pigs (up to 80% of pigs eat ractopamine-laced feed). 

Other countries don’t take the use of ractopamine so lightly. For instance, China and Taiwan prohibit any traces of ractopamine residue in meat, and have rejected some U.S. exports. Also any meat exported to the European Union needs to be certified as ractopamine-free or it will be rejected.

How To Avoid Ractopamine Treated Turkey In The U.S.:

My team contacted several major turkey companies, most don’t use this drug, however, some admitted to us that they use ractopamine.

Jennie-O’s – Their customer service agent told us over the phone that it’s not routinely used and only used on a limited basis if necessary — whatever that means, because ractopamine is not a “necessary” drug used to treat disease. Jennie-O indicated that there would be no way of knowing at the store if their turkeys were fed ractopamine because it’s not labeled or otherwise indicated.

(UPDATE 11/17/14: Since the publishing of this post, Jennie-O stated in a recent email that they don’t use ractopamine. We are seeking an affidavit from them and will update you here with further information when received.)

According to Safeway Grocery Stores – “Ractopamine is a growth promotant that can be feed to turkeys so our Safeway Farms turkey may or may not have the promotant in their feed. To guarantee that growth promotant was not part of the diet, please choose our Open Nature or O Organics brands which do not allow growth promotants.”

According to Kroger Grocery Stores – “Thank you for contacting Kroger regarding Kroger and Simple Truth whole turkey… This question has been researched with our Corporate Food Technology Department and our suppliers. The Kroger and Private Selection Turkey could have used ractopamine in production. The Simple Truth Organic turkey does not use it”.

As these companies aren’t required to disclose whether ractopamine is used, and their claims are not third-party certified, it’s difficult to confirm its use. Even turkeys that are labeled “No Hormones Added” or “Raised Without Hormones” may have still been fed ractopamine to promote growth (because it is not a hormone), so don’t be fooled by this label. Growth hormones aren’t allowed to be used in raising poultry, so this label is meaningless and used as a marketing trick when labeled on turkeys (such as Butterball).

The best way to make sure that you’re avoiding ractopamine is to only choose certified organic turkey.

Ractopamine, along with antibiotics and GMOs, are prohibited in organic farming. 

If you’re ordering an organic turkey make sure you put your order in early, as supply goes fast and it may be hard to find the week before a holiday. Below are a few ways to order:

  • Order an organic turkey from a local farmer or farmer’s market.
  • Head to a specialty grocer such as Whole Foods or Earth Fare.
  • Order your turkey from an organic online supplier

Even if you have to order one now and freeze it and thaw it out later, it is better than consuming this nasty growth-enhancing drug during the holiday season!

If you know someone buying a turkey, please share this post with them – the more people know, the less this nasty ingredient will be used!



P.S. This information could hold true for some of the turkey meat on supermarket shelves or served at restaurants – even cold cuts, so beware!



I just found out that two lawsuits were filed against the FDA yesterday (11/6/14), as reported in the Wall Street Journal, “In two different lawsuits filed on Thursday…groups including the Center for Food Safety, the Humane Society of the United States and United Farm Workers of America argue that in approving drugs like Topmax, a medicated feed additive used to produce lean muscle instead of fat, the FDA failed to adequately consider the drugs’ collective effects on animal welfare, worker safety, wildlife and U.S. waterways”. Both of these lawsuits are asking the Court to set aside FDA’s unlawful approval of these drugs until the FDA issues a more thorough environmental analyses. You can read these Complaints here and here

From Humane Society, et al:
“FDA approved Ractopamine for use in pigs in 1999 under the brand name Paylean, and subsequently approved Ractopamine for cattle and turkeys under the brand names Optaflexx and Topmax, respectively. Since its initial approval as Paylean, Ractopamine use has increased significantly in the pork, beef, and turkey industries”
“Today, Ractopamine is fed to approximately 60% to 80% of pigs, cattle, and turkeys raised in the United States”
“The FDA also apparently failed to provide for any public or expert comment on its NEPA analysis for Topmax”.
From The Center for Food Safety, et al:
“FDA does not require any withdrawal period for ractopamine before slaughter. A 2006 scientific study concluded “there is a possibility that adulteration of feed with ractopamine could result in residues in animal tissues and lead to human poisoning.” A 2013 Consumer Reports test of 240 U.S. pork products found that about one in five tested positive for ractopamine residues”





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187 responses to “This Drug Has Sickened Thousands of Animals – Will It Be At Your Holiday Feast?

  1. My family uses Organic Prairie ( for our holiday feasts, which also means it comes straight to our door. We place orders a month or two in advance, just to be safe.

  2. I am always so amazed by the things these food companies are allowed to get away with. I always tell people that especially with meat and dairy make sure it is organic and local if you can get it. If not then reduce how much meat you take in. I hope everyone sees this!

      1. Wow that’s a really good price. Most I have seen are $100-$120 for that size. Which is too expensive for me. I don’t know why they are that much. I am going to raise my own next year.

      2. Hmm. Get an 8-pound turkey instead. That will bring the price down by almost half.

      3. The prices here in New York for turkeys from local turkey farms are terribly high I can’t afford to pay there prices my husband got laid off his job and we’re having it pretty hard.

    1. Great advice. Organic , biodynamic, grassfed, no grains to cause leaky gut ecoli contamination; can be affordable. When you put a pound in the pot, a pound comes back…. And you can spend what you save on drugs and surgeries on food you like and be around for your children and grandchildren. If we refuse to buy anything but good food, the sellers will beforced to comply with our demands, even for honest fair pricing.
      The best gift I can give for the season of giving is this site: It is a gateway to learning what is needed to attain and retain maximum health.

      There is one step beyond safe food. Food that is compatable with my body, your body.
      This is the only source of true science on food choices I have found. I have spent 4 decades studying and searching. Motivated by the birth of a son with massive health challenges and anomalies. I have no connection other than profound gratitude, personal and on behalf of family, friends, and past patients, for the work of this internationally acclaimed doctor and scientist in Epigenetics and Human Individuality ,and , computer genius. Wanna get healthy and vibrant ???

  3. This drug, made by the drug company, Elanco, is also named PayLean, as it makes the pigs leaner since they do not eat when given this drug. My understanding is that it is an amphetamine, like a 1960’s diet drug, but this one is not approved for human use.

    The Chinese will not buy our pork with this in it. And they are the largest pork consumers in the world. So pork producers do not put it into a Chinese market pork. Also the Chinese are making sure their pork is free by buying our pork processors, like Smithfield farms. Smithfield now has two production lines, ractopamine free for China and U.S. lines with ractopamine.

    I did not know it was feed to Turkeys too!

    1. Ractopamine is a beta-adrenergic – Beta blocker anyone???? Used in humans for various cardio symptom pictures. Deadly to humans in combination with a dieuretic. Why used in food animal production, allows the gut to extract every last calorie from the feed. The animal will gain an appreciable amount of weight at the least cost. Wolf in lambs wool explanation is how good it is for the environment to maximize the nutriative benefit of food thereby lessening the amount of food needed for each animal to attain maximum healthy growth. As they say in the Sty, HOGWASH !! All about profits and those multibillion dollar transactions negotiated by the political lobbyists. The type of feed is engineered to not increase fat but rather lean muscle. Antibiotics are used to increase overall weight, good ol’ Monsanto GMO corn to increase fat. Any animal can be tenderized by limiting excessive exercise. Mature Buck deer that have been yarding rather than travelling a huge range are as tender as gravy.
      They need to rewrite the lyric to that old rock tune to, ” Everybody knows Monsanto rules the hill….” The only way this trash finds it’s way to your table is by the lobbyists buying your local federal politicians. I used to wonder how Widgit Counter John or License Plate Counter Jane, entering politics as an average wage earner leaves to live like a millionaire and like the Soap Opera Juvie with grade 6 suddenly becomes the CEO of a corporation, or at least a mil a year adviser for life.
      Time to get ready for 2016 folks; send those old fat dinosaurs packing and get some younger better socialized reasonable, honest, humanly kind humans in office. Like climate change they’re sinking the good ship Earth.

      1. Just to clarify, and I’m not saying this makes it any better, but it is an agonist, not a beta blocker.

      2. I apologize for generating confusion; my diversive nature again, considering more than one divergent viewpoint at the same time. Ractopamine is not a Beta Blocker, correct; it is an agonist, not an antagonist.. And , sincerely,thank you. Interestingly in human trials it was found to contribute similar deleterious threats as provided by the infamous deadly beta blocker dieuretic combo. The half life studies does not speak to cumulative effect.
        I recently had a patient given a new med, en combo , “off label”, experimental consented to trial to improve insulin sensitivity. She has no idea what she is taking. But the effect is pleasing. This obese person has lost an enormous amount of weight in a scary short time. Much like the super speed, Preluden, of the 60’s, effect, she is never hungry, mood improved, high energy, gone from sedentary to ambulatory, halting speech gone, more socially acute. Her muscle tone suggests regular workout exercise which is not the case. What lies at the end of the regimen when the weight is lost is concerning.
        It is clear that Ractopamine residue is not a desireable substance to be ingested.
        The entire food production food safety process has caused us to be unable to believe anything the producers and the watch dogs tell us. Like the boy who cried wolf….

      3. Cait; Wonder if you might comment on the rumoured risky agonist, antagonist combo some long distance runners are rumoured to be using,
        Not being a pharmacologist how the scheduling would work is intriging , to achieve the desired performance outcome. Or perhaps one is used to mask the other ??? I’m illiteterate here.One would think that health entusiasts would stay as far away from the destructive pharma chemical fuels as possible.

  4. Wait a second… your own article says, and I quote, “Most meat is never tested for ractopamine residues, so it’s anyone’s guess how much we are really eating. ”

    In other words, the answer could be zero amounts. Why would you post a scare article about something you haven’t even tested to see if it’s actually an issue?

    1. You’ve taken my statement out of context – The FDA established some “safe maximum residue limits” (MRLs) for ractopamine residue, so they are allowing some of this residue to remain in the meat sold at the store.

    2. She did state that its not required but the meat they did test was allowed bc it had trace amounts.

      1. The point is I don’t want ANYONE taking liberty with my food period. It’s not a scare tactic. I want real food! And the fact that we don’t even know this is going on until someone like Food Babe has made it her life’s work is shameful.

  5. I have been agonizing over my Thanksgiving turkey for a couple of weeks now. I either buy a conventionally raised turkey at around $20 or a local organic one for $120. I can’t afford a $120 turkey as much as I would love to buy one, so what does one do? Is eating this one day going to hurt, or should we have something other than turkey on Thanksgiving?

    1. Shelley, there are plenty of organic turkeys that don’t cost 120 dollars. We get our turkeys from diestel turkey ranch which is based in the town I live in and they sell at some of the bigger health food stores around and they have some that are organic, non gmo certified and the one we got last year was 60 and it fed over 8 people.

      1. Thanks for your help. We don’t have any bigger health food stores here, just the local co-op which had a sign up sheet for turkeys at $6.95/lb. I do see now that I can get Diestel turkeys from Azure Standard at $4.97/lb. Do you know anything about their non-organic turkeys? They are only $2.81/lb. Do they raise them without all the chemicals, antibiotics, etc.?

    2. My mom used to work for diestel and I was there all the time. They say they don’t use any antibiotics or growth hormones on any of the turkeys. They are raised in giant pastures and they aren’t shoved in little pens with a million other turkeys. If you visit the business they just have turkeys roaming around on the pastures and it’s really nice. Also they say they don’t feed them any of that stuff on their website but sometimes you don’t really know, but from my knowledge they don’t and I used to ask the general manager these questions.

      1. Hi Shelley, I emailed Diestel asking them about their non-organic turkeys because i was interested in buying one being significantly less than the organic one. I asked if their range grown turkeys are fed grains and soy that come from GMO crops? They replied “Our non-organic Diestel turkeys are fed high quality corn and soy bought from respected growers we know have good reputations. We source all our feed from U.S. growers and mill all the feed ourselves. So while the feed that the non-organic Diestel turkeys eat is high quality we do not claim it is GMO free.” So they might not use any growth hormones or antibiotics on their non-organic turkeys but they most likely eat GMO feed. Hope this helps if you’re still considering buying one of their turkeys. Personally I think I’ll be going for an organic turkey this year to avoid all the bad stuff at around $60, it’s once a year.

      2. When you only have a limited amount of money to spend on food, many times you have to choose “the lesser of two evils”. I have a choice of a regular turkey at $20 with possible ractopamine, fed GMOs, and raised in terrible conditions(not going to happen); a non-organic one without ractopamine and raised well, but still fed GMO feed at $45; an organic one that is well out of my budget at between $80 and $140(can’t do it); or don’t eat turkey at all. Even if my husband hunted a wild turkey I know they are feasting on the GMO corn fields right now.

      1. I had thought of a couple of chickens also since my daughter does raise those for us. I wonder how hard it is to raise turkeys…for next year.

      2. I agree… organic chickens… I’m not savvy enough to go vegetarian yet.

    3. I completely agree. I cant afford $100-$120 for one turkey. I don’t understand why they are so expensive? I got 50lbs of non-gmo feed for $24 from my coop and it will feed my chickens (and turkeys if I had them) for quite a while. Why is one organic turkey that much?

      1. Right! Chickens from farms around here are selling for about $3 to $3.50/lb. so why are the turkeys $6.50 to $6.95 lb. I’d like to know.

      2. They are more expensive because it costs more to raise turkeys. Not sure if its double but it is significantly higher.

    4. You could buy a smaller organic turkey and have more vegetable and side dishes for Thanksgiving instead it better for you anyway.

    5. If it’s such a conundrum, why don’t you eliminate the turkey altogether? Why does your dinner HAVE to include turkey? You’ve fallen victim to the ag corporation indoctrination, apparently.

  6. •Acorns, hickory nuts or beech nuts
    •Seeds and grain, including corn and wheat
    •Berries, wild grapes, crabapples and other fruit
    •Small reptiles and snakes
    •Fleshy plant parts such as buds, roots, bulbs and cacti
    •Plant foliage, grass and tender young leaves
    • Amphibians such as frogs and salamanders
    •Large insects including grasshoppers and caterpillars
    •Snails, slugs and worms
    •Sand and small gravel for grit

    That’s what wild organic turkeys eat in the wild…happy thanksgiving

    1. gee thanks a lot! TMI! who needs to know this? very gross to tell us this, especially right before the holidays.

    2. Actually I thought it ws a very good point and much better than eating poison which is terribly terribly gross

    3. And those wild turkey’s have way more flavor than any store bought turkey I’ve ever had. The true definition of free roaming & organic!

    4. That seems like a pretty natural diet, especially compared to one that involves a drug that is not allowed for humans.

    5. Mmmm, yummy! I’ve enjoyed reading these posts, and have gotten quite an education! Fortunately I am able to get my beef and pork and chicken from free-range growers, so my chances of living under normal circumstances seem pretty good. My thanks and gratitude go out too the brave farmers that raise their livestock in a pure way.

    1. Yes we got one last year, it was leaner than what we are normally used to, but brining and bagging should help keep it moist. It was so nice to know we had a “safe” turkey.

  7. Thank you so much Food Babe, this is why we ordered our turkey just this last Sunday from Whole Foods!

  8. Here’s an idea: get out in the woods and hunt your own turkey! Taste’s better than any store bought turkey, and you can be sure it hasn’t been fed any Topmax!

    1. Yes, I agree, when we lived in norther Idaho, we killed and ate 2 wild turkeys. They were delicious and our children were thrilled and watched the whole cleaning process. ( we skinned them and brined them) every year there a many many baby turkeys and flocks and we watch the grow happily, not because we are bloodthirsty, because we understand how it works.

      1. Here in New York, only 45 minutes north of NYC, we CONSTANTLY have wild turkey in our back yard… Sometimes 9- 14 at a time… Big and healthy…. Actually, GIGANTIC, HUGE AND TRAVELLING IN PACKS… ( Seriously, LIKE in a horror movie… LOL… ) So, you mean, these are the same turkey’s that are okay for us to eat?? ( Because I have been told- that they were not okay for us to eat… Btw- I have never been, but Bow hunting is allowed around here… )

    1. Honey Baked Ham’s turkeys are produced by a division of Jennie-O so more than likely they are.

  9. I’m not familiar with this drug, and I’m not happy about the way poultry are treated. However, the “not for human use” label should not be used as some big warning against eating the meat. Veterinary products, even those that are literally exactly the same as human drugs, all say ‘not for human use’. It’s a liability issue, and a legal one. So the same meds you might use for your own ear infection, if labeled for animals, will say “not for human use’.
    Not hating. Just… the more you know.

  10. Here’s an idea. How about not having a dead bird one he table this year. Unbelievable. These drugs makes these animals go insane and all you care about is your own dam selves. Pathetic.

    1. This is the best comment posted! Break from the herd people! You do not need to eat a turkey on thanksgiving day (or ever!)

    2. Yes, I agree. Go vegetarian or vegan and support the ecology we are not only part of but also responsible for to keep it healthy and balanced. Have comapassion towards this innocent birds or any animals, respect other life forms like your own.

      1. I get heart sick eating these animals who have thinking capacity and families like us. They show their learning and capabilities by the many shows where they are used as pets and the affection they garner. I feel sad that we humans can’t honor their life on earth too. I know its hard to give up meat but my insides are bleeding for them. Let your conscience be your guide and let them live.

    3. There are a lot of creatures in the world that rely on eating other creatures; humans are part of that group. So hating humans for doing what they evolved to do is kind of moot.

      1. To Lori who will likely never see this due to me replying to myself:

        Perhaps we do have a choice, and perhaps we don’t. For hundreds of thousands of years, our ancestors had to kill and eat meat both for warmth and for food. Winters are quite barren except for meat. It’s quite likely that our bodies through the ages became dependent on the nutrients that animals provide.

        Just look at what an infant requires. Animal protein provides so many benefits and so many nutrients that are just not available elsewhere. I’ve seen kids who were fed vegen diets and developed problems, severe problems, problems I don’t even know how to describe. I can’t say for sure why the problems arose, but I knew I was giving my children every possible chance of developing to their full potential. Why take the chance?

        Another vitamin, B12, needed by your brain to keep you from going too crazy and deciding to restrict your diet to vegetables, is only available from animals.

        B12 in cereals is synthetic. And if you’ve been paying attention to this web site, the suggestion is to choose real over synthetic every time.

    4. It is not easy for people to give up eating animals. Going vegan for me has been an act of courage. It has been a relief to not have to think about what horrible things are being done to or given to the animals that are slaughtered. The meatless side dishes are the best part of Thanksgiving anyway – sweet potatoes, cranberry pineapple sauce, sautéed green beans with shallots and almonds, mashed potatoes and parsnips with caramelized onions, roasted beets, turnips and onions, roasted cauliflower and broccoli, glazed carrots, caramelized Brussels sprouts with roasted acorn squash, butternut squash soup, pumpkin pie…yum!

  11. I would like to know if Pudue and Shaddy Brook uses this in their ground turkey?
    I will be following Food Babe from now on and Thank You for all this information.

      1. Boy that’s sure good to know!!! If that’s not true then what else is false in their claims. I stopped buying Harvest Land when I found out it was a subsidiary of Purdue. I figured the deception was deep. I hope you all read the Law Suit parameters where Vani has highlighted, “here, and here”. They are buy the CFS and the NHS and they are the best and most well formed and written suits I can imagine ever seeing. Send copies of these Suits to your Representatives. Send them to the Pres. Tell them “See what’s going on under your noses? Step up and STOP THE MADNESS before it’s too late. In doing so it will help your party in 2016 giving you many props for protecting the Environment and the Populous it supports. The Populous that votes for YOU and YOURS!” It’s time we get REALLY LOUD FOLKS!!!

      2. You can’t trust the “claims” of any manufacturer.

        For example, General Mill saying Cheerios is non-GMO without getting the non-GMO certification.

        Another was Horizon milk which got caught using regular milk but keeping their label.

        Finally, Consumer Reports names a company that claimed to be non-GMO but was replete with GMOs.

        Look for Organic (European or US) labels and/or non-GMO certification.

  12. I love reading your emails … specially when I see that I’m already NOT doing what you tell us NOT to do . I appreciate it when you unmask greedy companies . I’m learning a lot thanks to you . Keeping away from damaging food is also keeping me from needing chemo. Thank you .

  13. Good to know ,,,I hate turkey ,,,eat chicken -range free, organic grain fed .local is much better that turkey any day ……

  14. I appreciate Food Babe bringing these issues to light, but you know the easiest way to avoid Topmax? Don’t eat dead animals 😉
    You could also be avoiding violence, torture, hormones, cholesterol, deforestation, ground water pollution, air pollution, steroids, salmonella, huge grocery bills, and a whole lotta corporate greed and government subsidized corruption.
    At a Farm Sanctuary here in LA, they hold a celebration for the turkeys. People come from all over and feed a very excited flock of turkeys this giant thanksgiving feast of pumpkins and cranberries, then we have a feast ourselves, and we celebrate what beautiful and curious beings they are.
    plant food for thought
    peace and love and gratitude for all Earth’s creatures

    1. I only eat dead animals. Live ones stampeeding my kitchen would probably scare me….

      I also hunt. You probably hate that, lol.

      1. I don’t hate, no need for that 🙂 you are free to do what you want just like. I personally can’t understand causing unnecessary violence to the creatures around us, but everyone has their own perspective on our purpose here. I have more respect for the hunter than the average joe buying factory-farmed, tidily packaged body parts. I guess when I see a deer, I think, ‘how beautiful!” not ‘Die! Die! Die!’ haha
        again to each her own. cheers Diane <3

    2. Happy Girl, I couldn’t agree more ! I became vegetarian several months ago after reading The China Study, Food Inc, and some other books that explained exactly what goes on in slaughter houses and the brutal inhumane treatment most animals endure on their to being someone’s dinner. In my opinion, people do not have to eat meat to survive; we are herbivores, not carnivores, and that is the choice I have made for myself. It is so easy to not serve a turkey on Thanksgiving… I am in no way trying to tell other people what they should or should not eat, it’s not my business, but when you think of what is pumped into these poor animals and as a result of that, people consume this as well, I want no part of it. Thanks to the Food Babe for her work in trying to make companies be accountable and transparent ! Happy Thanksgiving Everyone 🙂

    3. I quit eating turkey when I saw footage of them being horribly abused at a plant. It’s now it’s been a year and I don’t even miss it at all, not even at Thanksgiving. I would love to visit Farm Sanctuary! Maybe some day.

  15. I’d love to know more about avoiding it in pork products too – since it’s nearly impossible to find ‘organic’ varieties of pork.

    Kudos for the updates on this important info that most people simply wouldn’t even think to consider – let alone know about. Let’s keep exposing those secret hidden health hazards – woot!

    1. Best to find a local farmer who can tell you what they feed their pigs. This stuff is NO Joke !

      1. I believe that! Hoping we can find a local CSA for pork, but we limit it now because of all of the unknowns.

        Thanks again for the insights! 🙂

      2. Better not to eat pig !! Think about it. Pig is the only animal whose parts can be transplanted into humans. All major religions order their followers to not eat pig. Only animals with a split hoof that chews a cud, says the christian dictate; ie: bovine, ovine,capra(goat),odocoileus(deer,) alces(moose)rangifer(caribou, reindeer),bovinae(bisons).
        I’m non Big 3 religious,lol, prefering Native Spirituality. I believe we should all share equitably, not sweat and die to allow some kings to live in luxury while the masses accept the leftovers; and respect and protect all living things and our good mother earth that we cannot survive without. As John Lennon wrote, ” IMAGINE.” Peace, health

  16. I love to eat turkey. Dark meat; light meat…it’s all soooo delicious.

    Thank you vegans for leaving more for me.

    Happy Thanksgiving! Billy

  17. There is one other way. Develop a relationshiop with a local farmer who is as outraged by the use of Ractopamine and any other growth enhancing chemicals, GMO’s as you are. I know a lot of farmers who feed organic feed – on pasture, with sunshine fresh air, etc. but are not certified organic because it can be VERY expensive & a lot of paperwork to get certified by the USDA. They have relationships with their customers. These small farms and farmers need our support, they’re out there working hard and doing the right thing.

  18. ORRRRR…..You could just go vegan! Telling them anything will more than likely be ignored. We are wasting our time, energy, & our money on them, while putting our lives at risk! Do you think the slaughter house workers eat this nasty crap?! Heck no! Why should we?! So, HELLO, go vegan, HELLO?! Don’t forget…Eating meat pollutes! Pass it on!

  19. Unfortunately many people will justify eating their Butterball turkey for Thanksgiving because it’s one day out of the year to have a little celebration, and it’s cheap. Besides, “an organic turkey is too expensive”, they’ll retort. A little “poison” won’t kill me…(sarcasm) and the excuses and denial just keeps growing and growing. If people would not “marry” into culture so much, serving turkey at Thanksgiving would become a non-issue. We have Cornish hens because we are not a large family. Moreover, few of us are really crazy about turkey. How many people really love turkey? We have to learn to think outside the box, adapt to new “traditions” within our families and not follow a herd mentality. If so, there would be a lot less stressing out at Holidays. This goes for Christmas too! We create our own stress. Celebrate the birth of Christ, not your new Gucci bag. P.S. I eat organic because I care about my health, but I respect everyone’s right to make their own choices. Peace everyone.

    1. Except that now we hear Jesus Christ may never have even existed, and Christians were around 300 years before this “myth” was born. What are we to believe any more?

  20. Safeway has their store brand organic turkeys for $2.99lb. Azure standard has Diestel turkeys: no antibiotics, no hormones, msg, or carrageenan for $2.81lb. I have one in my freezer right now. I will be picking up one more from Safeway next week. Turkey is yummy! 🙂

    1. Safeway is one of the corporations fighting against your Right to Know what’s in your food. O Organics is a member of the Traitor Organic brands since Safeway is fighting to keep us in the dark about the food they sell you.

      Sure, the drugs are not allowed in Organic products, but those products aren’t tested for those drugs. GMOs aren’t tested either in organics.

      Considering that Horizon started using regular milk but kept the organic label on their products, I wouldn’t necessarily trust that Safeway’s “organic” turkeys are clean of drugs either. As I can’t say enough, “They are spending lots of money to keep you ignorant of your food.”

  21. I’ve known about Ractopamine for several years (from Joseph Mercola’s great website) — one reason to never eat turkey, pork or beef in a restaurant unless you know the meat is organic. Which is very difficult to find in restaurants. And Vani, thanks for letting folks know that the phrase “hormone free” is meaningless on turkey and chicken because it is illegal to feed hormones to chickens and turkeys anyway (not the case with pigs and cows however). My husband bought some turkey hotdogs the other day and proudly showed me the label that said “free of preservatives, hormones and artificial colors.” I explained to him that this was really deceptive on the part of the maker because legally the turkey they use for their hotdogs can’t by law contain hormones — but that they left out one very important “free of” claim — antibiotics. And that those hotdogs surely contained traces of antibiotics.

    1. P.S. When China, of all countries, bans pork from the U.S. unless it’s certified free of ractopamine, that should be all we need to know. China is well known for poisoning its own people with tainted baby formula, toothpaste, on and on. So this stuff must be incredibly awful for China to ban it. How sad that the U.S. is behind even China on food safety! Our FDA has been bought and sold by Big Pharma and corporate lobbyists and is absolutely not going to protect American consumers, and anyone who trusts the FDA is sadly mistaken.

      1. I think it’s great people are interested in learning about what’s in their food, but there’s a little bit of misinformation here.

        1. It’s true that there are no added hormones or steroids in poultry in the US, but the same goes for pork. No added steroids or hormones, no matter what the label says.

        2. And as a turkey farmer, I can guarantee you that there are no antibiotics in meat. We follow strict withdrawal times if we have to treat our flocks with antibiotics, and every flock is tested for antibiotic residue before it goes to the processing plant.

        3. China does not ban US food to protect their people. It bans it to protect its pocketbook. Banning things like ractopamine is a good way for China to limit the amount of food imported, which raises demand (and price) for the food grown in the country. It has nothing to do with safety and everything to do with economics.

      2. Katie,

        Thanks for your reply. But I’ve read many times that antibiotics are routinely given to chicken, turkeys, pigs and cows (or antibiotic-laced feed) in the U.S. Are you saying that ALL turkey farmers in the U.S. test for antibiotic residue before slaughter? What are the allowable limits? And what about antibiotic residue in pigs, cows and chickens?

        You do not mention ractopamine. Do you use it? Is it your understanding that it is used by most turkey farmers? You say that hormones and steroids are not allowed in poultry or pigs (but they are routinely given to cows). But I’m concerned about ractopamine residue, as well as antibiotics (and steroids/hormones in beef).

        American consumers are eating a chemical cocktail every time they eat meat unless it’s labeled organic, or clearly marked that no drugs of any kind were used in the raising of the animal.

      3. I emailed a few contacts and got a quick response – yes, ALL processors require testing for antibiotic residues for every single flock.

  22. Any system that has an allowable percentage of fecal matter in your food is not protecting consumers. That allows sodium nitrate to be injected into all ,”fresh” and preserved commercially produced meat carcasses and products. Allows the health dangerous practice of antibiotics to be used in animal and fruit production.These producers via they’re lobbyists are in governments’ pants right up to their elbows. What???? Well you can’t stuff that many billions of greenbacks in a mere old pocket. Ah Yup …. Considering a dismal 33% of eligible voters voted and only 13% were under age 35 we should consider wearing that old adage, ” you get what you ask for…” A bit of an apology should be offered for the apparent deliberate blocking of unwanted/non republican voters, the poor, the young people, people of color. We contribute to that, too, when we do nothing. to stop it.
    Imagine if Vani decided to do nothing about our food and food construction , and , production, control criminality. Do you think she does so unscathed ???If you think she has a sweet job, I’ve got some ocean front property and a great suspension bridge to sell for a mere $100,000.00
    An old saying goes, ” The path of least resistance tends to make both men and rivers crooked.” That also explain some of our older back roads……

    We all have to cook this meat in something, right ???This site,

    gives you a SCIENTIFIC answer about oils, particularly Ghee, simply sort of, preferably organic, boiled unsalted butter. It will serve as a gateway to learning the first science about food choices ever offered. Things we once knew naturally or as a result of eons of trial and error which led us to healthy food choices have been abhorated by so called , “food science,” that art of adding toxic chemicals, sugar and salt to seduce us into swallowing poison. One thing I’ve learned is that my 1860 born Grandad knew a whole lot about nutrition that he never got from a book. Knew that hogs were too much like us to eat and that all major religions, including christianity, orders humans not to eat hog. I laughed at that for decades until I looked at the SCIENCE, Epigenetics. The only food choice informed science.
    The GHEE recipe is easy to find and extremely easy to use. Make your own, fresh, cheaper.

  23. I just found out about your site and my fiancé thinks I’m crazy. I threw out all are unhealthy food and went and got all organic. I pay so much attention to labels now. I have even stopped eating meat and now I am exercising and really working on my body and what I put in it. But you know some men are hardheaded. Its like taking candy from a toddler. He is holding on tight to his bad food. But I have a trick. I’ll just replace his stash of snacks with healthy ones. You have been do helpful. Keep up the great work but can you do a look up on hair products and hair growth pills. I just brought some and it says organic but you’ve taught me just because it says so doesn’t mean it is.

    1. Mine was the same way. I replaced many foods one by one over the past few months – I didn’t wan to rush it in case he found it too much of a shock to his system. Then recently I asked him if he wanted a certain soup that I thought he wouldn’t give up but he said “no, you can buy me the other brand, I want to eat healthy”. It blew me away. He’ll still eat a bit of candy or chips on the weekend only but if that’s his only vice now, then that’s pretty good compared to how he used to be. Just have patience, once he sees how good it feels to eat well and exercise he’ll probably come around.

  24. Thanks for your commitment to advocate for healthy food! With so many options in today’s world it is great to have you as a resource to share what exactly is in our food supply. We encourage clients to follow you for up-to-date information. Keep up the good work!

  25. For those considering or think they cant raise turkeys….Raising your own turkeys and processing is easy, even for beginners. Plenty of YouTube videos to show you how. We just did 5 in our backyard. Our kids helped. Easier than chickens because they have a larger cavity to work with. Taste great!

  26. This drug is marked, “Not for use in humans. Individuals with cardiovascular disease should exercise special caution to avoid exposure. Use protective clothing, impervious gloves, protective eye wear, and a NIOSH-approved dust mask.” Why would it be “safe” in human food? Regualtions require no washout period, as they do with many other drugs fed to animals used for feed.

    (Source quoted in Wikipedia) The effect of ractopamine on humans is not entirely known, but consumption of products that contain ractopamine residues is not advisable to people with cardiovascular diseases.

    Any consumption by humans of a meat and/or byproducts of animals that consumed ractopamine with feed for growth stimulation, may result in such clinical effects as tachycardia and other heart rate increases, tremor, headache, muscle spasm, or high arterial blood pressure. (Safety Evaluation of Ractopamine EFSA Panel on Additives and Procucts or Substances Used in Animal Feed “FEEDAP” EFSA Journal 7 April 2009 doi:10.2903/j.efsa.2009/1041 Retrieved 2013-03-21.)

    1. Thanks for posting that from the big W. The, “may result in”….. meaning it has resulted in… has to be hammered. But Hell, the FDA passes drugs deemed as safe that can kill some people… They all really don’t care.

  27. My mother won’t buy organic foods and nobody else at our table (except Jim and I) care about food additives. So we’re bringing our own pastured turkey that wasn’t fed soy.

  28. Wow, reading about that made me sick to my stomach. Thanks for sharing! I am a huge fan of your work and blog!

  29. My grocer allows us to use of points collected for a free turkey toward the purchase of an organic turkey. It is wonderful. We just pay the difference per pound.

  30. How long before you go after the FDA and try to kill all these birds with one stone? That’s where the problem is and this president has done zero.

    1. I’m 100% with Will13. Target the FDA and force the president to clean house there, as well as the USDA and EPA. None of these agencies look after the welfare of Americans because their top officials are bought and paid for by the very companies that are trying to poison us with an unsafe food supply! Summon your ‘army’, Food Babe, and we will support you.

  31. I ordered my organic Turkey today from a small butcher shop in Black Mountain, North Carolina. Glad I did!

  32. Since one of the top officials at the FDA is a former Monsanto attorney/employee, and there’s a revolving door between the FDA, USDA and other government agencies (with mandates to look after American citizens’ interest, but don’) and Big Agribusiness corporations, Big Pharma and other Big Chemical companies, it’s obvious these agencies don’t give any thought to an unsafe food supply or any other unsafe condition that affects American consumers! They ignore expert warnings and the comments of hundreds of thousands of citizens as well. These are corrupt agencies because they’re led by corrupt people, and everyone who cares should write letters to their Congressional members as well as the president in the White House demanding change both of agency officials and policies. FDA, USDA and even the EPA have totally lost credibility with me. When China has more stringent food policies than the U.S., that is a sad day for this country! Keep fighting, Food Babe, and we will keep bugging our good-for-nothing Congressmen.

  33. If we knew what we ate every day that’s not listed on labels or is disguised by different names, we’d all decide to not eat. So many chemicals, aditives, untested and unsafe ingredients — yuck. Organic is better but quite a bit is outrageously priced. Turkeys can be priced as low as 29 cents per pound if you spend $50 at a supermarket. Who will resist that twenty pound bird at around six dollars to feed twenty people??? All those chemicals, hormones and such we ingest without knowing the consequences. Thanks to Food Babe we can be enlightened. I’ve always read food labels and taught mom to as well. She’s 80 and reminds me that our relatives from Russia ate schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) at Jewish holiday meals and lived long lives. But, they ate it in moderation, ate dairy sparingly, ate fish and chicken and veggies and no pork products. (But Oy, the salt!!)

  34. Organic Local Turkey from someone you know and trust. Don’t have time to get to know your farmer? Rethink this statement. Knowing where the food your family eats comes form is an amazing opportunity to create larger richer community and to safeguard health and economic growth.

  35. So, please correct me if I’m wrong here. Ractopamine is a drug banned in 160 countries (including the European Union, mainland China and Russia – where scientists are rather cluey). Yet, based on some poorly designed six person ‘safety’ study, this drug is fed to U.S. turkeys, pigs, and cows – with no period of withdrawal prior to slaughter – and no requirements to prevent residuals in #Fauxd sold to American ‘consumers’. It slips through some sort of non-hormone loophole (for reassuring labeling/P.R. purposes), yet in reality, it mimics hormones (e.g., epinephrine), and among other health impacts – it STIMULATES blood pressure, heart rate, AND THE HUNGER HORMONE Ghrelin. Yum. Arggh. Thanks for the alert @FoodBabe!

  36. The reality is our government is big business. Period. Bottom line, you must have to take the responsibility to care for yourself. Period. Educate yourself. There is so much information available. Ask your health professional(s) if you can find/know one that has a mindset for nutrition. If he or she do not. . . find someone who does. Bottom line Organic is the game. I have read many of the comments folks have shared. What I’m seeing clearly, despite the smoke/fear/pointing finger(s), is a huge industry potential waiting for someone to pick it up and run with it. The market for small farms is going to explode within the next five years. Why? Just for the exact excuses, concerns and lack of second effort that has put American’s in this health crisis in the first place. Consider:: living outside of Portland, Oregon. If 20, 50 or even 100 people worked together to contact a farmer and paid or leased a portion of land to grow food. If not organic b/c of costs, go no spray. Actually organic is not expensive. ‘Hint’. . .it is all In the soil.!.! Farmers could build what is needed to raise chickens, turkeys and or ducks; eggs and meat. Imagine 30, 50 and or 100 people bringing their excess kitchen table scraps to the farm to feed the chicken. . .! .If a group chooses to grow vegetarian crops only, get it done!. Many farmers are hurting financially. They already have the equipment. The group could collectively dictate what is to be grown. Eating locally grown food is the game. Five summers past, I began growing my own herbs using discarded nursery black pots. The costs this year for an entire season is less than a tank of gas. This past spring, summer and fall, I purchased veggies etc at a farm that promotes a non-chemical/no spray. They could not afford the red tape b.s. Organic Classification Documentation.The second half of their program, is that you can pick. They have practiced this farming for eight years. Every year, their business is expanding. My out-of-pocket cost was 60 to 70% less than what I would pay in most grocery stores. A single mother, by herself, grows various vegetables to sell but primarily tomatoes out of her back yard. During the growing season, it is not uncommon for her to sell over 400 lbs of tomatoes to one buyer. You do the math! She told me that her business is picking up and she always ‘sells out’ what she grows. Could/Can you imagine what extra income someone could produce if their backyard grass lawn was replaced with an herb and or vegetable garden. If you have tasted fresh picked tomatoes, corn, peppers, cucumbers . . . .all organic . . .I rest my case! Period!. The small farmers that grow and sell to the public generally run out of produce before it goes bad. Most, if selling honey, sell out before the season closes. Period. The market is there!.!.! and it is growing despite the b.s politics and blatant lies on all fronts.
    Lastly, I have seen in my practice countless people, of all age groups, regain their health by changing their food; from the Standard American Inflammatory Diet::processed, chemically grown and GMOed. . . . to educationally selecting organic and making realistic life style changes; exercise, actively eliminating stress and daily spiritual practice(s).. Pub Med. reported last year that America dropped from the 24th to the 36th healthiest nation. The power of the public is immense. The power of the human spirit is beyond thought’s expressed words. The power of the pocket book will determine the outcome. If no one buys these toxic plumed GMOed ‘fouled fowl,’ the growers will ‘snap-out -of-it,’ scramble or starve. I have witnessed farmers showing up with twenty large ice chests with 20+ organically raised chickens/ unit and sell out in less than two hours. They sell at nine different markets every week. Half way through the season, they have closed down; completely sold out.

    Now some hints for you to seek , buy and read:: 1). Eat only in the spirit of your blood type. 2). Do U know that your body cries for water. 3). Do any of you folks know how foods combine into food combining?? As with anything, there are setbacks when changing the way you eat. . . quitting doesn’t work! So make mistakes, and when you do, you will fall forward, let it go and when you get back up, you’ll keep going! Ask questions even at the vegetable section at the market or grocery! You will be surprised how much folks know. Make some phone calls. Seek out health-minded health practitioners and ask them questions. Ask around who is good! Please read and hear this. . . if you give the body, your body, a chance to heal, it will. . .It is innately so from the blessing from above and within you. Give your body a chance/time to heal. When your weight falls, your energy begins to climb and that health issue begins to dissipate, you will know you are on the right track. I see it in patients/client’s faces; that perpetual smile coming from the inside out. If you don’t believe me, ask Vani! She knows! God’s Blessings!
    p.s. Eat a divinely made apple. . .a Godly made apple. . . God’s!

  37. Vani, can you tell us the other major turkey companies you contacted, that claim not to use the drug? I’m just curious so I can compare all options when I head to the local Food Lion or Harris Teeter (the only grocery stores within a 2.5 hour driving distance). Thanks for the info!

  38. Greetings to All! Just a few opinionated points to ponder for your Self: While someone has already commented about this, I feel it’s worth repeating– if We as Humans (Beings) were created so that eating was intended to promote/sustain our living, continually, as a positive experience of Life (Its Self) doesn’t it seem/feel counterproductive to take-in death/trauma in the same attempts to sustain Our Selves?…I also am aware of the various forms and functionality in which We were created possibly making it necessary for some body/blood types to intake the flesh of animals…but the important difference is ‘The Way(s)’ in which the animals can be put to rest vs. being slaughtered/killed and ‘The Way(s)’ they can be allowed to grow vs. being manufactured by chemicals (that grow with a negative consequence)…and unfortunately albeit constructively, We are forced to look at the ‘designed’ devolvement of Humanity. I mean, simply because We have the Internet, an IPhone 6, hybrid cars and the legalization of things before considered taboo have We really advanced, collectively, in terms of the ways We treat and think of others, Our Selves, Mother Earth, Life in general? I would say mostly “no” but in the same breath, that answer does not apply to All people and situations. We must begin and continue to understand just who We are (at the core), “where” We are living (is it “really” a Nation of United States or a corporation, and what is this corporation’s TRUE mission?) and how it is possible for a mass-miseducation (aka ‘programming’) of the Human heart~mind over a period of centuries to allow corruption on seemingly every level to continue to exist. While it may sound cliché, and I would be another one guilty of blowing smoke if I was not the first to admit it is Highly difficult when so much of the opposite abounds, maybe the only thing that will pull Us out of this wholistic abyss is putting Real-True-Sincere Love into Everything We do thereby eventually removing everything that is not…Love. I Am…not a hippie, liberal, talking head that talks or New Age guy (although I long for and choose something “New” as opposed to the same ‘ol “old”)…no…I’m only tired of this draining experience of anti-Life and by nature, I deserve better…We (Humanity that is Being Human) All Do.
    In peace…

    1. Can we just eat our organic meat without this preaching.
      Go vegan. Goodie for you. Now, the rest of us, we’d like our pumpkin pie with a huge slab of turkey and ham.
      Thank you!

  39. Oh, but let’s not legalize marijuana because it’s such a dangerous drug. The FDA is right in the hip pocket of big Pharma. It’s ok to pump the food we eat full of dangerous chemicals, but we don’t have the intelligence to decide for ourselves what recreational drugs we want to use……….oh alcohol is acceptable even though it will destroy your liver and cigarettes are good even though thousands of people die from smoking related illness every year ( marijuana can be consumed in many other forms than smoking). The bottom line here folks is not your health, it’s the root of all evil………

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