The U.S. pork industry presented its antibiotics use program â€“ the Pork Checkoff-funded Take Care - Use Antibiotics Responsibly â€“ last week at the annual American Public Health Association conference and exposition in Philadelphia. The "Take Care" program demonstrates the pork industry's commitment to responsible antibiotic use and to producing a safe and wholesome pork product.
The APHA conference, attended by an estimated 13,000 public health professionals, included a session titled, "Agriculture, Animal Industry, and Public Health," at which a representative of the Pork Checkoff discussed the "Take Care" program and checkoff-funded research regarding the use of antibiotics in agriculture.
Lessons learned on a recent checkoff funded study trip to Denmark to observe the efforts by Danish pork producers to adapt to a ban of growth-promoting antibiotics in pork production and the results of the ban on bacterial resistance were described by one of the participants on this trip.
Liz Wagstrom, assistant vice president of science and technology for the Pork Checkoff, was among those who traveled to Denmark. She said the ban of antibiotic growth promoters in Denmark has resulted in an overall decrease in total antibiotics used, but that there has been a significant increase in the use of therapeutic antibiotics. Wagstrom describes resistance in pathogens as a mixed result and noted that there has been an increase in antibiotic resistance in Salmonella from pigs and pork since the ban. The Danes also have seen an increase in resistance in human Campylobacter cases in spite of a decrease in resistance in poultry and food animals.
Dr. Scott Hurd, an advisor to the Pork Checkoff and a member of the Checkoff's Salmonella Working Group, represented Iowa State University at the conference and shared with attendees a risk assessment study showing the effects of either using or removing an antimicrobial used in agriculture on the incidence of foodborne illnesses in humans. He concluded that there is evidence to indicate that increases in foodborne illness may occur if antibiotics are banned, negating any potential benefit of a decrease in resistance.
The panel of presenters on agriculture-related topics included representatives of Environmental Defense, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and faculty from Johns' Hopkins University
The APHA is an international organization with over 50,000 members. Their annual meeting is the largest gathering of public health professionals in the world, attracting national and international physicians, administrators, nurses, educators, researchers, epidemiologists and other health specialists. The APHA's meeting program addressed issues in current and emerging health science, policy and practice.
At the meeting, Wagstrom was elected to the APHA's governing council. Wagstrom is a veterinarian with a Master of Science degree in preventive medicine.