Antimicrobials / Antibiotics


Pork producers recognize their moral obligation to provide for the well-being of their animals and to raise them in a humane and compassionate manner. Current and future availability of safe and effective animal health products are important to pork producers, who depend on these products to maintain healthy and productive animals, prevent animal suffering and ensure that consumers have access to safe and wholesome pork products.


Antibiotics have been used to treat and prevent disease or promote feed efficiency (growth) in animals for more than 50 years. Like physicians and their patients, veterinarians and their clients share responsibility for the proper use of antibiotics. Antibiotics are one of the tools used by veterinarians and producers to quickly address clinical and subclinical disease and keep animals healthy and productive. Though pork farmers rely on antibiotics to keep their herds healthy, they also use a variety of tools to keep their pigs happy and healthy, including veterinarian care, good nutrition, proper and humane housing, and personal care.

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must approve animal antibiotics before they can be utilized. To gain approval, a drug maker must demonstrate that the product is effective and safe for the animal and safe for the environment. FDA must also determine that new antibiotics for food animals are safe with regard to human health. FDA approves antibiotics for four purposes: treatment of illness, prevention of disease, control of disease and nutritional efficiency of animals.

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There is a common misconception that antibiotics used in animals will show up in the meat sold at the grocery store. Animals who are treated with antibiotics go through a strict withdrawal period and must meet federal standards for antibiotic residue before the meat enters the food supply. Check out these three steps below.

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According to the Animal Health Institute, approximately 13 percent of animal antibiotics are used for nutritional efficiency. The top antibiotics used for food animals in 2011 were rarely used in humans, and vice versa.
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There are often large, alarming antibiotic use numbers carelessly thrown around. However, pound for pound, humans and their pets use 10 times the amount of antibiotics than what is used in food animal production. Pork farmers pledge to use antibiotics judiciously. Abusing antibiotics would not benefit farmers, animals or consumers.

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Infographics courtesy of U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance.

NPPC Position

Existing FDA regulations are increasingly strict and provide adequate safeguards against antibiotic resistance. NPPC actively participates in public discussions on the use of antibiotics. Pork producers stress that animal health products, including antibiotics, must be available to maintain the health of their animals. The National Pork Board’s “Take Care: Use Antibiotics Responsibly” is a program that demonstrates the pork industry’s fullest intention to provide veterinarians and producers the principles and guidelines for judicious antibiotic use. NPPC supports research and educational programs aimed at antibiotic use for pork production. Any regulatory decisions or legislative actions on antibiotic use in animals must be transparent and made based on scientific risk analysis.


Kansas State University paper: Use Estimates of In-Feed Antimicrobials in Swine Production in the United States