Pork producers should review their use of feed/water tetracycline-class antibiotics (tetracycline, oxytetracycline or chlortetracycline) to ensure their use meets standards required by some export markets for U.S. pork products, according to the National Pork Board.

All U.S. pork producers must follow animal health product withdrawal standards that meet U.S. maximum residue limits. These standards were fixed by the Food and Drug Administration’s scientific-based testing that ensures the safety of all products entering the food chain.

However, some countries buying U.S. pork products may have withdrawal requirements that exceed those on the product label.

Further, countries set their own tissue residue limits, which may conflict with the maximum levels set by the U.S. government, even though they are based on sound science, says Steve Larsen, director of food safety for the Pork Board.

Retaining export markets is important to the U.S. pork industry. University of Missouri agricultural economists Ron Plain and Glenn Grimes report exports contributed $40.56 for every pig sold in the United States in 2008. Pork exports continue to make a positive contribution during 2009, although below record levels of 2008.

The added pressure on U.S. pork exports in 2009 increases the need for producers who sell to packers that market globally to take steps to keep those markets open, Larsen says.

Specifically, producers are reminded to follow the voluntary 14-day withdrawal period for all feed/water tetracycline class antibiotics. Producers should also follow the labeled directions for injectable tetracycline class antibiotics. Current information suggests that a 14-day withdrawal for feed or water forms of tetracyclines should meet the residue limits of international markets for U.S. pork.

Producers should find out their packer’s policy in case a residue greater than the tolerance for the international market is detected, Larsen urges.

Producers also should work with their veterinarian to consider product choices in the finishing phase and to develop appropriate treatment and withdrawal protocols, he says.

For more information, go to www.pork.org or call the Pork Checkoff Service Center at (800) 456-7675.