News 1535 views last update:Feb 15, 2010

Pork Board: Strategic antibiotic use remains key

The US National Pork Board has issued a statement that the responsible use of antibiotics has always been a top priority for America's pork producers.

Recent stories in the media have triggered more interest in the topic, e.g. a CBS story on the use of antibiotics by pork and poultry producers.

Fact-based discussion
“We welcome a fact-based discussion about this issue, because we know that science tells us we're doing the right thing for animal health and food safety,” said Liz Wagstrom, assistant vice president of science and technology for the National Pork Board. “Producers care about their animals and the safety of the food they produce. That's really the bottom line that should be understood by everyone.”

The NPB refers to the 21-year history of the Pork Quality Assurance Plus programme, which in its view reflects the value pork producers place on using antibiotics in a strategic and judicious way.

“The Pork Quality Assurance Plus programme, started by farmers in 1989, has led the way in reinforcing good on-farm practices that help ensure animals are healthy, well cared for and produce safe food,” said Wagstrom.

"Antibiotics are vital" 
The pork board said to recognise the importance of getting the facts out about this important issue and fostering open, honest dialog about why tools such as antibiotics are a vital way to keep animals healthy and the food supply safe.

According to the NPB, the top four messages that consumers should know about antibiotic use are:

• Antibiotics are given strategically – administered when pigs are sick, susceptible or exposed to illness.

• Using antibiotics strategically to ensure that, what the NPB calls 'the safest meat in the world', ends up on America's dinner tables. 

• Only antibiotics approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are used to treat pigs.

• The USA has a 20-year history of continuous improvement working with modern farm production to make pork better, healthier and safer to eat.

European Union
In the European Union, however, the preventive use of antibiotics is much less advocated nowadays. Since it is known to have a direct influence on human immunity to antibiotics, the preventive use in livestock has been banned for several years.

Related websites:
• National Pork Board (NPB)
• Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

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