U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is holding its annual “Get Smart About Antibiotics Week” this week, a seven-day event centered on promoting responsible use of anti-biotics, combating antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and celebrating American pig farmers’ long history of doing what’s best for their animals, their customers, and their communities.
"The single most important action to slow the development and spread of antibiotic-resistant infections is for every one of us to improve the way antibiotics are prescribed and used," said Dr. Lauri Hicks, Director for the CDC's Office of Antibiotic Stewardship. "If we don't take better care of the antibiotics we have today – if we aren't better stewards of them – we may lose these antibiotics and the next ones that come along."
The 2016 Get Smart About Antibiotics Week marks an important year in which Congress has allocated $160 million in new funding for the CDC to implement its portion of the National Action Plan for Combatting Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria (CARB) by accelerating outbreak detection and prevention, supporting research, and better informing providers and the public about antibiotic resistance and appropriate antibiotic use.
The National Pork Board marked the occasion by confirming their commitment to responsible antibiotic practices.
"The Get Smart About Antibiotics Week is a good time to reflect on our long history of accomplishments in the antibiotics area, such as using these medications responsibly and embracing the updated Pork Quality Assurance SM Plus certification program," said North Carolina Pig Farmer and National Pork Board President Jan Archer, in a press release. "As pig farmers, we are aware of the challenge of antibiotic resistance and are dedicated to working hard to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics, both on the farm and in human medicine."
The Board’s proactive three-point antibiotic stewardship plan focuses on promoting research, increasing pig farmers’ education, and communicating with consumers. The Board’s Antibiotic Resource Center is a prime example of this commitment to assist farmers and address consumers’ concerns about responsible antibiotic use in the pork industry.
"We are always seeking ways to do what's right for our animals, our consumers and the environment," Archer said. "We are looking for new ways to reduce the overall need for antibiotics, but we need to retain them as essential tools for veterinarians who work hand-in-hand with farmers to raise healthy livestock and produce safe food."
More than $6 million in Pork Checkoff funds, from the National Pork Board, have been invested in antibiotic-related research since 2000—$750,000 this year alone. This research targets five research priority areas aimed at reducing antibiotic resistance and finding antibiotic alternatives.
"Real change is underway on pig farms across America, with farmers and their veterinarians shaping the discussion around responsible antibiotic use," Archer said. "As the FDA prepares to implement the new, more stringent rules, such as the upcoming ban on using medically important antibiotics for growth promotion in food animals, we'll be ready."
For more on the pork industry and the future of antibiotics and their alternatives for farm-use, stay tuned to Deli Market News.