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:
“NOT FOR HUMAN USE”
Why 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!
BREAKING NEWS UPDATE!
187 responses to “This Drug Has Sickened Thousands of Animals – Will It Be At Your Holiday Feast?”
Thank you Food Babe I am already buying an organic turkey at Whole Foods but I did not know that they were hiding more drug use that they do not even have to report.
I am so sorry for the animals that nourish us to have to suffer to grow faster because of greed.
Since when s it alright to hurt Gods creatures?
If you are so worried about hurting God’s creatures, why are you eating meat at all? Hello? It doesn’t matter whether you buy an “organic turkey” because you are still contributing to the industrial agricultural system that is hurting and killing millions of animals on a DAILY basis. Stop rationalizing your meat consumption.
Markus, take your attitude somewhere else, brother. Everyone on this site is for the humane treatment of animals. Some of us choose to consume animal products and others do not. Those who do consume animal products should thank the Creator and the animal for our sustenance. If you think that you do not cause the deaths of other animals eating a vegan or vegetarian diet, you are sadly mistaken!
In the Bible in Leviticus God has instructed us to eat the meat of animals with split hooves except for swine.
The delusion that animals can be bred, give birth, and the infants slaughtered humanely, is self deception and self serving… Your own children would never, if in a room with juvenile turkeys and fruit platters, choose to kill and eat the turkeys. They’d rather pet them, watch them, listen to them and love them.
If you insist that humans have some inalienable right to take the lives of other beings, you participate in a system that values YOU the way you value animals.
It’s the most vicious cycle when a government abides by and promotes feasting on young sentient animals, which in turn, allows that same system to view it’s own citizens value in economic terms. In other words, to this system, you and yours are just another unit of production, like the poor infant turkeys who are born into and die in hell… Gd gave temporary permission to consume flesh and there was a price, premature death and plagues. Organic slaughter is just as egregious and cruel. Such a narcissistic and selfish society. Bullying began with dominating animals and LOOK how it effects children today. You deceive and betray your own children if you think animal slaughter can be humane or non-violent. It’s unimaginable how addicted people are to eating flesh 🙁
God said we could eat meat to nourish ourselves, this is about making sure it’s nourishing us without drugs and additives by buying organic instead and going so far as to ask the company to act responsibly in its methods.
Well said Lin!
God said? Oh, you mean the Bible said? A book written by people who say it’s Gods word? That book is full of violence and other atrocities…that is condoned by “God”. To use it to justify killing animals is weak. Why not just “own” it yourself that you choose to eat animals and quit using the scapegoat of “God said it was okay”.? That is sooooooooooooo weak!
The best way to make sure that we are avoiding ractopamine is to become vegan. Apart from paying for turkey flesh we pay for antibiotics, ractopamine and plethora of other drugs, but most important we pay for SUFFERING of innocent creatures, environmental degradation and one way or the other we are increasing our chances to get cancer, heart attack, cardiovascular diseases. So we are paying for our poor health too. Most of us will not kill piglet, chicken or other animal, but we happily pay somebody else for the cruel job WE would not want to do. We are hypocrites at the biggest scale possible.
Not everyone wants to be vegan and being vegan does not guarantee not getting cancer or other disease.
I have a friend who has NEVER eaten meat she just had both her breast removed, she is also overweight.
What happens to us is not just based on food we eat.
Of course there are any factors impacting on our health. Genetical makeup, environment etc, but food is the one of most important and the one we can have control over. We all can get get sick and we all will die – however eating vegan food will cause less illness and help to live longer and more ethically as it does not harm other sentient beings and have much less negative impact on our planet
If you know ONE person who has something happen to him/her, that is NOT enough evidence to indict the entire lifestyle. That is an anecdote. Learn the difference between anecdotes and evidence. The majority of vegans/vegetarians are more healthy than the general population. Your friend probably is eating other unhealthy items so she is canceling out the beneficial effects of her vegetarian diet.
Well said Zack on all fronts! We have been conditioned (and a bit lazy) far too long!~We need to use the incredible gift of thinking for ourselves, and help support those courageous souls (THANK YOU Vani) that are trying to make it easier for everyone to make responsible choices by disclosing ingredients, organizations & practices and bringing wholesome transparency and solution based alternatives to the forefront.
To Vanni… Please answer to this reply !I read your article and Sarah’s response and article! They both make sense and they both sound truthful based on their own facts and experiences, but, please what is the real truth? We, the people have the right to know what we are buying and if it’s safe or harmful! Money, greed and profit should mot play s part in telling us what we need to know for ourselves, our children and the future of humanity! Why can’t someone or all involved get together withthe same purpose, plan and reasoning to feed the world in a way that is ethical and safe? I so confused and don’t know who to believe and what to eat or not eat! Please help us know the real and complete truth an
It what is in our food… ALL food!!, who do I believe and why?
Just don’t eat turkey.
Finally a person with a brain. Just do not eat turkey!
I think the “proof continues to be in the puddin” as they say here in the South.
Sixty Eight percent of Americans are now thirty pounds overweight or more. Insulin resistant diabetes mellitus Type II is on a steady rise. White sugar and white flour have essentially replaced fresh vegetables and fruits in our daily diet. The chemical additives referred to have been introduced from seed to the dishes on the table. It is blatantly obvious that there is a major problem with processed and refined foods. Its time for more truth and less smoke. Farmers are paid by pounds or bushels, it only makes sense that additives to enhance these numbers have been used in all areas of agriculture possible. We are now paying for that “intervention” in a lag type effect. The further we allow “food” of all types and sources to be altered from how they were originally created the more disease processes will be prevalent and escalate in number. Instead or resorting to name calling or slander to protect interest on either side, I would support the strategy of “positioning” yourself and family to obtain and secure heirloom seeds and EAT FOODS AS CLOSE TO HOW GOD MADE THEM AS POSSIBLE!
Grow a garden, it is okay to get your hands dirty
I used to work for a major feed company in California working directly with the animal nutritionist creating custom feed blends, many of those blends were for Turkey growers. Let’s just say, there is a reason I am vegetarian now!!! I’ve seen commercial animal production, first hand. Take away a baby calf from its momma at one day old and let it live in a hutch for the next 4 months so momma can go into the milk production string. (Never mind the stress it puts on the cow seeing her baby carted off in the front loader tractor) the Put a sow in a metal crate where she can hardly move so she can spit out litter after litter of piglets, cram tens of thousands of birds into a poultry barn, but make sure to whack off a good portion of their beaks first so they do not injure one another. Then wonder why these poor animals are stressed and become ill, thus antibiotics and growth enhancing drugs needed so the farmer does not suffer losses from dying animals. It’s not a pretty sight…just business.
I am speaking out
God’s Will is very clear.
So, as a child of God shouldn’t we just continue praying
thanksgiving over the food (and not just our food but the
food in the store-pray for others) believing God will heal the food and the water.
God’s Word gives us examples of God through Elisha healing
the water and the food before Jesus and we also have Jesus telling us what
signs will be associated with those who believe.
Read 2 Kings 2:19-22 New International Version (NIV) 2 Kings 4:38-41 New
International Version (NIV)
Mark 9:23 (NIV) (I know the verse states- “If they drink
anything poisonous, it will not hurt them” but I have to
believe God is able to heal our food too, IF we believe He can do this for us.)
God has already told us that the world is not right, so we must begin to see God is the answer to EVERYTHING right or wrong in this world.
continue praying thanksgiving over the food.
Thanks for the information, so we can pray.
Stop posting BS from the bible. Read a verse to 100 persons and you’ll get close to 100 different interpretations. If you believe that stuff, then bully to you, we don’t need to be preached to.
If God is the answer to everything right or wrong in this world, please explain why a man inserts his penis in a 3 year old child? Where is this God in prevention this and other atrocities?
So people, explain to me why if all the foods we eat are so bad for you, why does the average life expectancy keep going up ??
On the contrary, the generation growing up now is expected to be the first generation in America that will live less than their parents in a very long time.
There is a lot of literature and articles (including studies and papers in major journals) about life expectancy now going down. If you are really interested in it, it is easy to find if you look. But since you asked Tom, let me help you with that: http://bit.ly/11jIZGk. I’m guessing you don’t have credible, reputable data to back up your statement that it is still going up. ‘Conventional wisdom’ tells us that life expectancy is still going up. If you ever read Freakonomics (best selling book by leading economist in the states) you will understand why it is good to question conventional wisdom and how it can sometimes be far from the truth.
And the quality of that longer life keeps going down. One cannot deny, despite all the advances in medicine such as vaccines, we are a very sick nation. And by the way, Alex is correct. Plenty of science is out on how the current growing generation will not make it to be the age of their parents, on average. That’s because We’re being poisoned in the name of profit. Aren’t people wonderful?
Thank you, Vani, for the info on TopMax. I did not suspect that the thanksgiving turkey had antibiotics and hormones. I urge my local Trader Joe’s to offer ToFurkey but am told that turkeys will sell better during the season. I bet that would not happen if all people knew about topmax, hormones and antibiotics.
People don’t know what they are buying, and stores are not eager to tell them.
In California, I campaigned to Label GMO’s in the 2012 election, sent donations to Washington State for a 2013 vote on the same issue. Oregon had Proposition 92 to do the same just this month. All 3 went down to defeat at the polls, because of massive spending on the “NO” campaigns.
I am noticing Monsanto has hired trolls to attack anti-GMO posts on FB. If you look at their derogatory posts, click on some names. Then notice what they post. Entirely propaganda as far as I can scroll back. These aren’t real people’s opinions, Monsanto wants us to believe that we are a minority, but I don’t buy it.
To Adam and Sarah ,
You are both sadly mis-informed ! The Food Babe has it together! She knows
what she is talking about ! It is people like you ,who think they know it all, who make this world such a screwed-up place ! Get wise and start listening to the folks who really know what is going on. It isn’t pretty! We are all being lied to, and led to early graves by the companies who sell these products, who only want to make money off of people who are ignorant enough to buy their products.I am in total
agreement with Afchief !
Wake up people !!
Thank you Vani for the information. As an informed, and highly educated professional, I appreciate and value the time you spend researching and sharing all that you discover. As we all know, any information shared that is thought provoking, has done it’s job – to get us to consider the potential implication of what is being discovered. Regardless of your position on the matter, it is process of thinking and analyzing that is important. As rational adults, we can either agree or disagree, but the end result is still positive – to discuss and debate about very important issues. We are in a national food crisis, along with a health crisis. We need to continue these conversations at length and take action!
I agree with Lisa that both Vani and Sarah sound sincere and well informed.
However, as a doctor who routinely treats patients with all sorts of health issues that are chemically-induced from the “foods” and drinks that they consume, it is clear to me that when these patients significantly change their dietary habits, they get well-and tend to stay that way.
To trust in the voracity of the FDA and the United Nations is analogous to hiring a fox to guard the chicken coop. The FDA is “bought and paid for” by Big Pharma. From where do you folks think that they hire their executives? It should be illegal, in my humble opinion, for a pharmaceutical company to hire anyone from the FDA for at least 5 years after they have left that agency. Re: the UN-if anyone is not familiar with Agenda 21, i would encourage you to begin educating yourself. This entity does do some good work, but it is not all as benign as it seems.
I need to read up on Agenda 21. My girlfriend tells me about it often.
And….we ARE what we eat. Sickness is more a nutritional issue than anything we think we might have inherited. Bad food makes sick people.
It’s very hard to eat responsibly and healthily but we must make ourselves educated on how to affect this. And to follow through with supporting national demands for truth in labeling.
Whole Foods seems to be on that path but they and others need swelling ranks of us to make progress.
Or….we move to another country that is safe.
We vote with our dollars and our feet.
Wow! Very enlightening to even more practices and conditions for these poor animals than I knew before. I just can’t believe the levels that companies/government go to deceive consumers! It is just horrible that they use labels stating that the animals were raised without antibiotics and hormones, while still pumping them full of this horrible drug. It’s always a struggle paying extra for organic meat (which is why we don’t consume animal products before dinner and usually just 4-5x/wk in the evening) and this is definitely another huge reason to fit the extra money in our budget for the sake of our health. Thank you for the information, Vani!
I am buying from a local farm this year and glad of it! I saw pictures of the turkeys in the fields and buy my milk from the farm every week, so glad to do this…It is a clean farm.
I’m looking for a good breadmaking machine is there one that you would recommend ?
Thanks in advance
A good bread making machine would be the Geri Whitley brand. Seriously, you don’t need a bread making machine. I make all my bread by hand. Bread is something that touchy feely is helpful with. It helps to know how wet or dry your dough is and how well developed the gluten is. I own four Kitchenaid mixers including two of the “commercial” models with the DC motors that can mix dough without getting bogged down…but I don’t even use them for bread.
By the way, if you plan on buying a Kitchenaid mixer, definitely spend the extra money to get a 7 or 8 quart model with the DC motor. They are more powerful, are quieter, run cooler and can rip through even the heaviest doughs.
Kneading bread is also great exercise…and therapeutic.
Something to consider with bread machines is they’re more likely to make you fat. You want to avoid too much of the four white guys (bread, pasta, rice, potatoes) as they all cause huge blood sugar spikes. Bread machines make it too easy to be constantly eating bread.
I make my own pizza dough, a “standard” white bread, sourdough and NY deli rye. I’ll occasionally make others but those are my ol’ standbys. If I make a whole wheat, it’s usually a mix of the white bread with 1/3 to 1/2 of the flour replaced with whole wheat. 100% whole wheat is not very palatable. I want to try my hand at making chewy, crunchy French baguettes. The dough itself is just 4 ingredients…flour, water, salt and yeast.
Is a “natural” turkey the same as “organic” ?
Natural is not the same as Organic. USDA Certified Organic is what you want to look for. It also means that it is not genetically modified.
Learn more: https://foodbabe.com/2013/09/19/100-all-natural-products-can-be-chock-full-of-gmos/
Looking at the description of the drug, it appears that Topmax is neither an antibiotic nor is it a hormone. Unfortunately, when you read a label and it says “antibiotic and hormone free”, it doesn’t mean they aren’t using this drug. It is in all our best interests to buy locally from the small guy who raises his/her animals humanely and processes them humanely as well. Yes, you might pay a little more, but isn’t our health, and the health of the animals worth it?
wow…i am tired of being lied to.. so this crap??? is this why ppl seem to be coming down w cancers like the flu???
Ick. I think this year I’ll just pass on the turkey entirely and roast up a couple of my own free-range chickens. Maybe next year I’ll raise a few turkeys specifically for the Thanksgiving feast.
Thank you SO much for this 411.
I justice purchased Jennie turkey franks in lieu of beef!!! ‘sigh’
Will purchase certified meats from now on.
Costco has organic turkey from Coastal Range Organics at $2.89/lb in San Diego. Any opinions about this brand that is owned by Foster Farms?
I was researching Butterball because I found a hormone free bird for the holidays and was trying to make up my mind but I found this link, that is NOT for anyone who cannot stomach animal abuse. http://www.butterballabuse.com/?lang=en
Because of this link, and how Butterball is not cooperating with Topmax questions, I will look at different brands of Turkeys that are treated humanely.
how about just stop slaughtering animals and stop eating them!!!!
Def. will buy an organic turkey. Thank you.
On another topic of poisons in our food. Can you give us more information about arsenic in rice? I heard it is also in organic rice. I found a petition on change.org and I figured if I posted it you can get your army to sign it. I’m just a concerned mom. I have nothing to do with this petition otherwise. But we do eat a lot of rice so rather disconcerting.
Why is this permitted?
Because the FDA is a rubber stamp organization that approves pretty much EVERYTHING that the corporate “food” producers create. I mean… if China bans a food additive, why is is still permitted here?
Very timely post, Vani. Thanks.
Thank you for all the investigating you do. I could do without eating turkey, but, for my husband, it’s a tradition on Thanksgiving. I went on a crazy chase to find certified organic, and finally found one in town this week. I feel better being informed and sparing my family of these harmful ingredients.
Whole foods or Fresh Market would be my choices.
Earth Fare sells Halal meats and products….will NEVER shop there.
I realize that not everyone has the option; but I raise all the meat I feed my family. This is exactly why. I raise my own chickens for meat and eggs; beef; pork and I buy only the organic milk and other animal products. We cannot be too careful. Our bodies are too important and the treatment of these poor innocent animals is despicable.
I am embarrassed to be part of the human race sometimes. Here’s to considering going vegetarian-I really think it’s the only way!
What about a kosher turkey?
I like turkey enough to raise my own. They are fun to have around and are like my dogs with an added benefit, I eat them when they get large and aggressive. No vegan for me meet is the mainstay of my diet so I bought rural land to raise all of my own livestock. if you want to hug an animal or a tree that’s what makes free speech awesome, but i don’t need to listen to it.
Ractopamine is just one of a class of drugs call beta-agonists. They are not hormones or anti-biotics so a producer can claim their product is hormone free and still be legal.
Beta-agoninsts are widely used in beef, pork, turkey and chicken. One estimate I saw claimed up to 80% of the beef sold in the US was fed beta-agonists. The supermarkets have no way of knowing if their meet contains beta-agonist residue unless they ask their suppliers. The USDA has a “Never Fed Beta Agonists” program but I have never seen any labeling for that on products in the store.
Merck was making a drug called Zilmax but they voluntarily removed it from the market after Tyson refused to accept steers that were fed the drugs. There were several reasons given one of which was the cattle dying prematurely before they could be slaughtered.
Beta-agonists are fed to animals in the 4 – 6 weeks before they are sold. What they do is cause more lean muscle mass to be put on instead of fat. That allows the rancher to charge more per head. Even suppliers of high end beef like Allen Brothers have no idea if there are beta-agonists in their products. There’s a disconnect between the ranchers and the butchers and the stores.
Russia and I believe also the EU do not allow imports of American beef that was fed beta-agonists. One website claims ractopamine is banned in 160 countries. But like likes of bad things, the FDA and USDA feel it’s all perfectly fine for Americans to eat what others won’t touch with a 10 foot pole.
Clenbutarol is widely used in China but clenbutarol is banned in the US except for show animals. Just the fact that it is available means there’s potential for abuse. In the US, Paylean is typically used for pork.
Do you want drugs in your food? I know I don’t. Besides, a little fat is what makes meat taste good.
What truly amazes me is how few Americans have ever heard of beta-agonists and have no idea what they are eating.
Thank you very much Food Babe for seeking out the truth concerning our food. I have a frozen turkey in the freezer right now and I bet it’s got those toxins in it (sheesh). I don’t know that I’ll throw it out, but I know I will NOT purchase another turkey without confirming it is indeed organic. Thank you for being bold, courageous and curious; we benefit from who you are.
Kat & her 2 dogs ; )
How does one sort the comments chronologically ?
By the way, assuming turkey is like chicken, a person will pay a huge surcharge for an organic turkey. It’s not something low income people will be able to afford.
There’s a reason why companies like Mc Donalds, Burger King and KFC market to low income people…because rich people can afford to eat real food.
Anybody know what’s in frozen fish patties? The package says they are at least in some part made of fish. But what kind of fish? They don’t say.
It’s a mystery.
Is this still relevant? Last update was in 2014.
Has any progress toward the non use of this growth chemical been made?