*Different groups may vary in definitions
Prevailing industry standards are increasingly focused on the judicious use principle regarding antimicrobial use. It means only using antimicrobials under veterinary oversight for specific disease issues when animals require treatments. It also means seeking continual improvement, through integrated management approaches and alternative tools, to minimize the risk of disease and thereby minimize the potential need for antimicrobial use. There are already strict rules in place such as withdrawal times to ensure no antimicrobial residue is present in animal protein products at any time even in cases where animals may require an antimicrobial treatment.
The Raised Without Antibiotics or Raised Without the Use of Antibiotics claim means that the animals from which the food products are derived were not given antibiotics in their feed, water or by injection. Farms that adopt RWA production aim to meet this definition and typically have the ability to separate animals that do require antimicrobial treatment into a separate market stream.
Antibiotic Free is another term that can mean the same thing as RWA but also sometimes is used to focus more specifically on the food products, meaning that the products do not contain antibiotics residue. This is sometimes viewed as a misleading term by industry since there are already strict withdrawal times in place to ensure no antimicrobial residue is present in animal protein products (with the withdrawal times followed all animal derived food products are already antibiotic-free.)
The No Antibiotics Ever claim, like RWA, means that the animals from which the food products are derived were not given antibiotics in their feed, water or by injection. When referring to the type of on farm production system, NAE is sometimes considered a stricter term than a RWA system. While an RWA producer may have a defined plan for treating and separating out any animals that do need antimicrobial treatment, NAE typically is term used when talking about products at the consumer level.