Pork producers are being reminded to review their use of feed/water tetracycline-class antibiotics (tetracycline, oxytetracycline or chlortetracycline) to make sure their use meets standards set by some export markets for U.S. Pork. (See Russia Bans Two U.S. Pork Plants.)

All U.S. pork producers are required to adhere to animal health-product withdrawal standards that meet U.S. maximum residue limits. These standards were determined through science-based testing by the Food and Drug Administration to ensure the safety of all products entering the national food chain. However, some countries that purchase U.S. pork products may have withdrawal requirements that exceed those on the product label.

Individual countries determine their own tissue residue limits. Not all countries agree with the maximum tissue residue limits set by the U.S. government, even though U.S. limits are based on scientifically sound food-safety data, said Steve Larsen, food safety director for the National Pork Board.

Export markets are important to the U.S. pork industry. According to the annual study conducted by University of Missouri economists Ron Plain and Glenn Grimes, exports contributed $40.56 for every pig sold in the United States during 2008. Exports for 2009 are expected to fall below the record levels of 2008, but the economists say exports continue to make a positive contribution to hog prices.

With the added pressure on U.S. pork exports in 2009, producers who sell to packers that market globally should take steps to help keep those markets open, Larsen said.

Specifically, he said, producers are reminded to follow the voluntary 14-day withdrawal period for all feed/water tetracycline class antibiotics. However, producers should follow the labeled directions for injectable tetracycline class antibiotic products. Based on currently available information, a withdrawal of 14 days when using feed or water forms of tetracycline class antibiotics should meet the residue limits of international markets for U.S. pork.

Larsen urged producers to talk with their packer to understand the packer's policy if a residue greater than the tolerance for the international market is detected. Producers also should work with their veterinarian to consider product choices in the finisher phase and to develop appropriate treatment and withdrawal protocols, he said.

Source: The National Pork Board