Beginning Wednesday evening, CBS Evening News featuring Katie Couric, is scheduled to begin a two-part report on antimicrobial use in food-animal production. The reports are expected to look at both meat and poultry production. The National Pork Producers Council's Dave Warner says that feedback from the producers suggest the segments will be highly critical of livestock and poultry production. One industry observer notes that this is not a coincidence and this activity is likely a push for Congress to implement more controls over antimicrobial use.
The National Pork Board has been working with CBS to provide insight and information on antimicrobial use and modern pork production. Cindy Cunningham, NPB's vice president of media relations, says they know that the topic of antibiotics will continue to be a significant issue and they want to be sure there's good, accurate information out there.
Pork Checkoff Assistant Vice President of Science and Technology Dr. Liz Wagstrom says there is a common misconception about the use of antibiotics in pig production. Antibiotics are used carefully during times when pigs are most susceptible to illness.
"What we found out in Denmark, which is a country that banned the use of what they called antibiotic growth promoters, is that what appeared to be healthy pigs were actually pigs that were susceptible or at risk of getting sick," Wagstrom said. "When they banned the use of these antibiotics, they found out they had a big increase in sick pigs, they had a 25% increase in death rate in their pigs, and all of that ended up having no positive impact on human health."