USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service, or FSIS, has announced new methods with increased efficiencies for testing residues in meat products. Iowa State University Extension swine veterinarian Jim McKean urges pork producers to review their operational and management decisions regarding drug usage.
"Pork has had minimal anti-microbial residues for many years, the kind that would violate these rules," McKean said. "Knowing about this new testing procedure and program will help producers maintain that level of results."
Through its national residue testing program, FSIS tests for the presence of chemical compounds, including approved and unapproved veterinary drugs and hormones, he says. The new high-efficiency multi-residue methods for testing for veterinary drugs will allow screening for a range of compounds including legal and illegal drugs.
Farmers urged to review operation, management decisions for animal drugs
"The testing will include antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs and growth promoters, and unlike in the past, a sample may be analyzed for multiple compounds," McKean says. For example, previously, FSIS would have collected 300 samples from 300 cows and tested for one chemical at a time. Now, one sample can be tested for up to 55 pesticide chemicals, nine kinds of antibiotics and various metals, and eventually will be able to screen for more than 50 other chemicals.
"This is why it's important for pork producers to read and follow all withdrawal times; properly clean out feeders, and water lines, and in some cases, floors after the use of medicated feeds or water. And be sure to consult with your veterinarian if questions arise," McKean says. "Paying attention to these practices helps ensure the supply of safe meat products to consumers, and it's also consistent with the 'We Care' and 'PQA Plus' initiatives of the pork industry."
Alliance adds balance to discussion about antibiotic resistance
The Animal Agriculture Alliance joined 15 other agricultural organizations in early July in submitting a letter to Congress in response to the recent Consumers Union report on the use of antibiotics in animal production. Read the full letter here.
The coalition wrote: "We strongly believe consumers deserve a choice when it comes to their meat and poultry purchases. However, consumers can make an informed choice through balanced information about the challenges, benefits and realities of the various approaches to raising and processing livestock and poultry. We do not believe it serves the consumer to stigmatize certain production systems to boost others."
Other organizations that signed on to the letter include the American Association of Bovine Practitioners, American Association of Small Ruminant Practitioners, American Association of Swine Veterinarians, American Farm Bureau Federation, American Feed Industry Association, American Meat Institute, American Veterinary Medical Association, Animal Health Institute, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, National Chicken Council, National Grain and Feed Association, National Milk Producers Federation, National Pork Producers Council, National Turkey Federation, and the North American Meat Association.
Alliance has addressed the critics of using antibiotics for farm animals
The Alliance previously addressed the Consumers Union report in a blog post dated June 26. Additional resources explaining the role that antibiotics and other animal health products play in producing safe food can be found on the Alliance's website.
Additionally, on July 5, the Alliance sent a letter to the editor in response to a July 1 Washington Post editorial that oversimplified the complex problem of antibiotic resistance. Read the full letter here.
Alliance President and CEO Kay Johnson Smith wrote: "Calling for 'Meat Without Drugs' to eliminate the use of antibiotics in farm animals may sound like a good idea, but the very title is misleading and inflammatory. Our meat and poultry supply is already 'without drugs.' When farm animals are sometimes treated to prevent or control disease, a strict withdrawal period is followed to ensure that the end products are safe."
Alliance supports responsible use of antibiotics to maintain farm animal health
She adds, "The claim that 80% of antibiotics are used on farm animals is unsubstantiated. Fully 40% of animal antibiotics are compounds not used in human medicine. FDA has initiated a process ensuring that all medically-important antibiotics will be administered under the supervision of a veterinarian and only for therapeutic purposes."
The Alliance supports the responsible use of antibiotics by farmers and ranchers in order to maintain the health of their animals and to continue to provide consumers with high-quality food products.
About the Alliance: The Animal Agriculture Alliance, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, is a broad-based coalition of individual farmers, ranchers, producers, organizations, suppliers, packer-processors, scientists, veterinarians and retailers. The Alliance's mission is to communicate the importance of animal agriculture to our nation's economy, vitality and security. Find the Alliance on Twitter, Facebook and Youtube.