Pork producers fight misrepresentation in NYT antibiotics article

The National Pork Producers Council has released a response to the recent New York Times article, detailing all of the key facts they say were omitted from the story.

6 August 2019, at 12:08pm

The article, published by The New York Times on Sunday 4 August, discusses a 2015 Salmonella outbreak in Washington State and how the origin of this case, among many others, was traced back to contaminated pork.

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) responded to the article with the following statements:

  • The US pork industry prides itself on having strict on-farm biosecurity protocols, demonstrated progress in responsible antibiotics use and a strong food safety record. Excellent animal care is imperative to produce healthy food for consumers. It’s a shame the reporter presented none of this in the story.
  • The US pork industry takes animal care and food safety very seriously and has demonstrated its commitment to responsible antibiotic use. Salmonella and other food safety cases are extremely rare.

The NPPC claimed that the following facts (full list here) were omitted from the report:

  • US pork producers supports and complies with US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations on the use of medically important antibiotics only to treat sick animals or those at risk of becoming sick and with veterinary oversight. This FDA report reflects declining use of antibiotics in pork production.
  • When antibiotics are used, farmers follow withdrawal periods set by FDA before marketing their animals.
  • The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) tests for residues to confirm that meat is free of any harmful level of antibiotics. In March 2019, USDA’s Agricultural Research Service reported that a survey of more than a thousand pork kidney samples found almost no veterinary drug residues and none at levels that even approached US regulatory limits.
  • US pork producers support veterinary oversight of antibiotic uses and objectives, scientifically rigorous studies and risk assessments to help farmers make informed decisions about the use of antibiotics in food animals.

Read the full NYT article here and the NPPC response here.