The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) says a study by Kansas State University (KSU) shows that opponents of antibiotic use in livestock production “wildly overestimate” the amount given to food animals.
Using data from previous swine surveys, KSU found that about one-point-six million pounds of antibiotics are used annually in pork production for growth promotion, nutritional efficiency and disease prevention.
That compares to a 2001 report from the Union of Concerned Scientists which claimed that more than 10 million pounds of antibiotics were being used each year.
NPPC chief veterinarian Dr. Liz Wagstrom says the KSU study confirms what they’ve known all along—that opponents have deliberately peddled misinformation about the use of antibiotics in livestock.
“What we had with these former estimates that were done by the Union of Concerned Scientists were people who didn’t know how much a pig ate in a day—didn’t know how long it spent in the nursery versus the finisher—(and) they estimated that we used hundreds of thousands of pounds of antibiotics that had never been sold in the United States,” Wagstrom says.
“As a result, they overestimated by several hundred percent how many antibiotics were actually fed to pigs.”
Wagstrom says the KSU study will help pork producers—and their customers—answer consumer questions about antibiotics.
“I think a study like this is going to give our customers the ability to answer those tough questions about really how are antibiotics used and how much is used,” she says.
Several groups and lawmakers have pushed a theory that antibiotics use in food animals is leading to antibiotic resistance in humans.