Efforts to ban certain uses of antibiotics for use in livestock have led to misunderstanding by the public on how the products are used in pork production. Although recent stories in the media have triggered more interest in the topic, the responsible use of antibiotics has always been a top priority for U.S. pork producers.

“Responsible and judicious use of antibiotics in pork production helps prevent animal suffering, and ensures that consumers have access to safe and wholesome pork products,” according to Howard Hill, DVM, National Pork Producers Council board member. “All decisions affecting their availability should be based on sound science and on products and labels as approved by the Food and Drug Administration.”

Before an antibiotic is approved by FDA for administration to livestock, a drug maker must demonstrate that the product is effective and safe for the animal and safe for the environment, according to NPPC. FDA also must determine that antibiotics for food animals are safe with regard to human health.

Hill opposes legislation that would ban the certain use of antibiotics in livestock. “Current and future availability of safe and effective animal health products are important to pork producers, who depend on these products, to maintain healthy and productive animals,” Hill says. “It is essential to public health and food safety, animal health and well-being, to maintain the effectiveness and availability of antimicrobials.”

Risk of disease may become an issue with young pigs, for example. “It is very important that we maintain the health of newly weaned pigs by preventing and controlling disease through the responsible administration of antibiotics,” says Hill. “U.S. pork producers fully realize their responsibility for using antibiotics in a safe and responsible manner as well as their obligation to provide for the well-being of their animals.”

Hill cites the responsible use of antibiotics program contained in the Take Care – Use Antibiotics Responsibly program. This program helps assure the responsible use of antibiotics by producers. “Pork producers also observe withdrawal requirements as set forth by the FDA which prevents any residue in meat,” added Hill.

According to the National Pork Board. 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 ensures that the safest meat in the world ends up on America's dinner tables. 
  • Only antibiotics approved by the FDA are used to treat pigs. 
  • We have a 20-year history of continuous improvement working with modern farm production to make pork better, healthier and safer to eat.

Click here for more facts on antibiotic use.