The National Pork Producers Council in the United States point to recent research by Kansas State University which shows that opponents of antibiotics use in livestock production wildly overestimate the amount given to food animals.
Using data from a 2006 US Department of Agriculture (USDA) swine survey and a 2009 survey of swine veterinarians, KSU found that annually about 1.6 million pounds of antibiotics (726 tonnes) are used in pork production for growth promotion/nutritional efficiency and disease prevention. A 2001 report, ‘Hogging It,’ from the Union of Concerned Scientists claimed that 10.3 million pounds (4,672 tonnes) a year are used.
“The UCS report should have been titled ‘Fabricating It,’” said NPPC president R.C. Hunt. “Pork producers do not overuse antibiotics. We work with veterinarians to carefully consider if antibiotics are necessary and which ones to use.”
The KSU study, which was published in the March issue of Foodborne Pathogens and Disease, found that 2.8 million pounds (1,270 tonnes) of antibiotics were used for growth promotion/nutritional efficiency, disease prevention and disease treatment. That amount is 368% less than the amount asserted by UCS for growth promotion/nutritional efficiency and disease prevention.
The NPPC state in their press release that “the study also belies the claim made by opponents of modern livestock production and some members of Congress that 80% of all antibiotics sold are used to promote growth in livestock. That figure always has been at best a guess because there is no reliable data on human uses of antibiotics.”