National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) chief veterinarian Liz Wagstrom has issued a seven-point response to Rep. Louise Slaughter’s (D-NY) recent allegations of misuse of antibiotics in food animals. She wrote:

  1. Virtually all of the antibiotics delivered by water and most of them delivered by feed are used therapeutically to treat disease.
  2. Slaughter alleges distributing antibiotics through feed results in “inconsistent drug dosing.” Wagstrom says there is no evidence of inconsistency. “Feedmill mixing equipment is designed to add antibiotics in the proper amounts, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspects feedmills.”
  3. FDA’s announcement that 80% of antibiotics sold are for use in agriculture is misleading, considering that there are billions more farm animals than people and pets. “On a per-pound basis, people and their pets use 10 times more antibiotics than farm animals,” Wagstrom points out.
  4. FDA’s 80% figure of use of antibiotics by farm animals can’t be verified, since the agency doesn’t collect data on antibiotics sold for human medicine.
  5. Thirty percent or more of animal antibiotics are ionophores, which are not used in human medicine and therefore are not a concern for antibiotic resistance.
  6. Slaughter is off base suggesting that we “know that the widespread use of antibiotics on healthy animals is contributing to the growth of bacteria resistant to the drugs we use to treat humans,” Wagstrom corrects. She notes there are no scientific studies showing a link between antibiotic use in livestock and antibiotic resistance in humans.
  7. Contrary to Slaughter’s suggestion that statistics point to rampant misuse of antibiotics to cover up unsanitary living conditions for animals, FDA-approved antibiotics are used responsibly and judiciously by pork producers under the supervision of a veterinarian. Most hogs are raised in climate-controlled barns that protect them from parasites and diseases, which reduces the need for antibiotics.