The agribusiness knowledge provider

February 7, 2012


USDA seeks extension of methionine use in poultry



The USDA will issue a proposed rule that would still allow synthetic methionine in organic poultry production but at lower levels from the current allowable levels.


The current allowance for synthetic methionine expires on October 1, 2012 and allows four pounds per tonne of feed for laying chickens; five pounds per tonne of feed for broiler chickens; and six pounds per tonne of feed for turkeys and other poultry. The proposed rule would permit organic poultry producers to use synthetic methionine after October 1, 2012 at the following maximum levels: laying and broiler chickens - two pounds per tonne of feed; turkeys and all other poultry - three pounds per tonne of feed.


Methionine is classified as an essential amino acid, and is required for proper cell development and feathering. Poultry animals cannot biologically produce methionine on their own.


The proposed rule reflects the recommendations of the National Organic Standards Board, an independent body of organic industry and stakeholder representatives that advises the Secretary of Agriculture on aspects of the USDA organic regulations. The board determined that the proposed reduced levels of synthetic methionine, developed in consultation with animal welfare experts and nutritionists, are sufficient for poultry maintenance, but do not enhance animal growth.

The recommendation is designed to continue to provide for the basic maintenance requirements of organic poultry, satisfy consumer preference to reduce synthetic methionine use, and allow the organic poultry industry time to research and develop commercially sufficient sources of allowable natural methionine. 


The NOP invites comments on the proposed rule, which addresses the listing of synthetic methionine on the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances. The National List is a subpart of the USDA organic standards that identifies synthetic substances that may be used and nonsynthetic (natural) substances that may not be used in organic production.

The Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 and NOP regulations specifically prohibit using any synthetic substance in organic production and handling unless the synthetic substance is on the National List.

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