The NPB has given itself a pat on the back this week for delivering on its 2015 antibiotic stewardship pledge. The board said it had successfully promoted research, educated farmers on upcoming policy changes and drilled home the message that responsible antibiotic use has a place in the US meat industry.
“We have been listening closely to the many audiences touched by food production,” said Jan Archer, NPB president.
“From retail grocery chains to the foodservice industry, and from consumers to those influencers who define food production policy, we completely understand the important role pig farmers play in delivering safe food. We are committed to defining the ideal balance of the right medicine, in the right dose, at the right time for our pigs.”
US pork farmers have committed more than $6m in antibiotic research since 2000. NPD has pumped $750,000 this year alone into research on identifying new antibiotic medicine, the environmental impact of antibiotics and the impact of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
“Real, substantive change is underway on pig farms across America with the farmers themselves shaping the discussion around responsible antibiotic use,” said Archer.
“We were the first food-animal industry to announce our stewardship plan, which underscores that antibiotics are essential tools for veterinarians and farmers to raise healthy livestock and to produce safe food.”
Antibiotic resistance occurs when a drug loses its effectiveness to kill bacteria, meaning treatment of animal and human diseases may not be possible. Some experts fear the prophylactic overuse of antibiotics in intensive farming systems could lead to a world where normal medicines used to treat human infections no longer work, causing a public health crisis.
Archer said the pork industry was prepared to implement the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) policy changes on antibiotic use, which come into effect on 1 January 2017.
“America’s pig farmers embrace the new FDA rules, which truly change the long-standing practices of our industry,” said Bill Even, NPB CEO.
“Pig farmers are committed to a process of continuous improvement in a number of areas, especially regarding responsible antibiotic use. One key element of that commitment is strengthening the relationships farmers have with their veterinarians.”
NPD said it was working alongside federal agencies such as the US Department of Agriculture, the FDA, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to work out how farmers could improve prudent antibiotic use.