The US Department of Agriculture published on February 6, 2012 a proposed rule that would continue the allowance of synthetic methionine in organic poultry production but at reduced levels from the current allowable levels.
The current allowance for synthetic methionine expires on October 1, 2012 and allows 4 pounds per ton (2 kg/t) of feed for laying chickens; 5 pounds per ton (2.5 kg/t) of feed for broiler chickens; and 6 pounds per ton (3 kg/t) of feed for turkeys and other poultry.
The proposed rule would permit organic poultry producers to use synthetic methionine after October 1, 2012 at maximum levels of 2 pounds per ton (1 kg/t) for laying hens and broiler chickens and 3 pounds per ton (1.5 kg/t) for turkeys and all other poultry.
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.