PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Organic apples and pears will soon be free of a widely used antibiotic.
The National Organic Standards Board has rejected a petition to allow growers to use the antibiotic oxytetracyline beyond the existing expiration date of Oct. 21, 2014.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's labeling standards generally prohibit food from being certified organic if antibiotics were used during production.
But the threat of orchard-destroying fire blight led to an exception for growers of apples and pears.
That exception was revisited in Portland, Ore., this week as consumer groups urged the board to maintain next year's deadline.
They said the use of antibiotics on two fruits creates confusion for shoppers who expect produce labeled organic to be free of them.