Antibiotics may be required
National Hog Farmer archive
Pig farmers use different tools — vaccines, proper housing and good nutrition — to keep animals healthy. The fact is pigs get sick and under the supervision of a veterinarian the use of antibiotics may be necessary to treat the illness.
Bethany Animal Hospital
The health of the pig is the No. 1 priority for America's pig farmers. From time to time, antimicrobials are necessary to keep pigs healthy and fight disease. The decision to use antibiotics is not taken lightly. U.S. pig farmers consult a veterinarian before using Food & Drug Administration-approved antibiotics.
Controlling the spread of disease
National Hog Farmer, BioPortal
While on the hog farm pig caretakers can take extensive measures to prevent the spread of disease, they do not have control of the environment beyond the farm's perimeters. Disease outbreaks do occur in the local region and can be transmitted in various ways including air, dirt and humans. New technology (such as pictured above), animal health reports and veterinarians can alert pig farmers of potential risk for the spread of disease. During those times of high risk, the use of antimicrobials may be necessary to control the spread of illness.
Getty Images/Andrew Theodorakis
The first step in keeping pigs healthy is creating an environment that can protect the animals from various weather conditions. This is one reason most pig farmers have chosen to raise pigs inside barns. However, there are specific times that antimicrobials may be necessary to protect pigs from vulnerable situations, including unfavorable weather conditions.
Responsible use benefits pigs
Research shows pigs tend to:
- give birth to larger, healthier litters
- get sick less often and recover faster
- suffer less premature death due to illness
- stay healthier and grow stronger
when farmers use antibiotics as prescribed by veterinarian.
Based on data from Effective of alternative hog production practices on the market for pork, UC Davis.
Responsible use benefits the environment
National Hog Farmer
Compared to 50 years ago, it takes 78% less land and 41% less water to produce a pound of pork. This is made possible by America's pig farmers and veterinarians using appropriate tools to keep pigs healthy. Healthy pigs eat less food, drink less water and produce less manure. All resulting in a 35% smaller carbon footprint.
Responsible use benefits people
National Pork Board
U.S. pig farmers use antibiotics responsibley to protect people and pigs. By using antibiotics when appropriate, farmers can produce safe and tasty pork for your family.
Leaders in animal care
National Hog Farmer
“The pork industry always has been proactive, and pork producers have a long history of using antibiotics properly. Still, there's always room for improvement. All producers need to strive to keep getting better — something we are very familiar with doing.” - Brad Greenway, NPB immediate past vice president.
Decades of commitment to responsible antibiotic use
National Pork Board
U.S. pork producers have a three-decade commitment to responsible and necessary use of animal health products to keep their animals healthy and to produce safe food. Among those efforts, the U.S. pork industry:
- Developed in 1989, the Pork Quality Assurance program to address concerns over antibiotic residues. Today, 99.9% of pork tested meets FDA residue standards.
- Established Judicious Use of Antibiotics standards for pork producers to follow.
- Supported establishment in 1996 of the federal National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System to track antibiotic resistance in food borne bacteria from humans, retail meats and food animals. The industry continues to lobby Congress for federal funding for the program.
- Backed in 2002: the USDA’s Collaboration in Animal Health and Food Safety Epidemiology pilot program to enhance overall understanding of the epidemiology of antibiotic resistant food borne bacteria that pose a food-safety risk by monitoring antibiotic use on farm and bacteria on farm and in plants.
- Developed in 2005: the Take Care – Use Antibiotics Responsibly program to provide pork producers and their veterinarians principles and guidelines to use when making antibiotic-use decisions. FDA, CDC and veterinarians provided input for the program.
- Incorporated in 2007: the Take Care – Use Antibiotics Responsibly program into the Pork Quality Assurance Plus program. PQA Plus, which includes producer certification and on-farm assessments, has assessment points on veterinary-client-patient relationships and antibiotic-use record keeping.
- Supported in 2013: FDA Guidance for Industry 213, which lays out the framework for judicious use of antibiotics in food-animal production. The guidance asks drug manufacturers to give up growth promotion claims for antibiotics that are medically important to human medicine. Using those same antibiotics for treatment, control or prevention of diseases must be under veterinary oversight.
- Collaborated in 2014 with the USDA and the FDA to develop meaningful antibiotic-use data collection. The effort is ongoing.
- Conducted in 2014 outreach to pork producers about FDA Guidance 213 and a revised Veterinary Feed Directive rule. The effort is ongoing.
- Participated in 2015 in the President’s National Strategy for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria.
Source: National Pork Producers Council
Check and balance for food safety
National Pork Producers Council
There is a common misconception that antibiotics used in animals will show up in the meat sold at the grocery store. Animals treated with antibiotics go through a strict withdrawal period and must meet federal standards for antibiotic residue before the meat enters the food supply.
Learn more at nppc.org.