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Antibiotic-free pigs eat a nutritious diet of corn or soy, devoid of commonly used drugs that can lead to drug-resistant bacteria.

Herds are raised in spacious group housing. To ensure each pig’s health, Cargill refrains from the use of animal byproducts, growth stimulants or preservatives.

Antibiotic-free pork products offer more choice to Cargill’s customers as well as everyday consumers.

Raising Antibiotic-Free Pigs

With innovative feeding and housing techniques, Cargill offers customers a portfolio of responsibly produced pork products. 

January 01, 2015

Consumers today have unprecedented access to information about the products and services they choose. When it comes to the food they eat, they want and expect transparency. Consumers want to know where their food comes from, how it is made and precisely what is in it.

For many, recent research findings have inspired a desire for animal protein produced without the use of antibiotics. These drugs, which are used primarily to prevent and treat diseases, have caused concern among some public health advocates that extensive use of livestock antibiotics could lead to more drug-resistant bacteria. This bacteria could then affect both animals and the people who eat meat products.

Cargill is responding to these concerns by raising antibiotic-free pigs, providing its customers an alternative to conventional pork products. Antibiotic-free herds are processed at the Cargill plant in Ottumwa, Iowa. The pigs are fed a vegetarian diet made from corn or soy, following protocols that ensure feed does not come into contact with animal byproducts.

Because these herds do not receive antibiotics, extra care is taken to manage the animals’ health. Disease can be transmitted from a conventional farm to an antibiotic-free farm via traffic, wild animals or migrating birds, so the pigs are housed in protective facilities to prevent contamination.

Raising antibiotic-free herds is challenging, but because Cargill oversees each hog’s complete lifespan, the company is able to closely monitor them and provide a clean, stress-free, all-natural environment, which ensures excellent animal health without the use of antibiotics. As a result, consumers who want to eat antibiotic-free pork receive high-quality meat featuring the taste and tenderness they have come to expect.

Today, Cargill houses approximately 27,000 sows that produce antibiotic-free pork, and production has reached 12,000 hogs per week. As Cargill’s antibiotic-free pork line continues to grow, products can be found in retail meat cases, at national restaurant chains like Panera® and on many grocery stores’ private-label menus.

The growth of antibiotic-free herds demonstrates Cargill’s dedication to broadening its pork portfolio and fulfilling customers’ desires for greater transparency in the foods they eat.