The National Pork Board today announced the seven members of its blue ribbon panel on antibiotics, an outcome of the Pork Checkoff's stewardship plan first defined in June.
The new, third-party panel includes experts with specific experience and knowledge in antibiotic practices or consumer marketing, but who are independent of National Pork Board practices.
The panel's call to action is to objectively review the status of antibiotic use in the pork industry and advise National Pork Board efforts in prioritizing research and producer education programs. Also, this independent panel will identify opportunities for improvement in current antibiotic practices and offer guidance in how to improve antibiotic stewardship in the pork industry.
The panel members are:
• Mike Apley, D.V.M. and Ph.D., food animal production medicine, Kansas State University
• Bonnie Buntain, D.V.M. and professor emerita, public health and food safety, University of Calgary, and coordinator, veterinary medical and surgical program, University of Arizona
• Mike Chaddock, D.V.M. and associate dean, College of Veterinary Medicine, Michigan State University
• Chris Cochran, senior manager, food sustainability, Walmart
• Jim McCollum, protein purchasing manager, Independent Purchasing Cooperative, Inc.
• Justin Ransom, senior director, quality systems U.S., McDonald's
• Steve Solomon, M.D., public health consultant and former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's office of antimicrobial resistance
"The critical role antibiotics play in pig farming is one of the most misunderstood facets of food production today," said Chris Hodges, National Pork Board chief executive officer. "We thank these leaders for their assistance and appreciate their range of expertise. From rigorous scientific study to foodservice and retail management, these experts will help us continue to build consumer trust and confidence in meat production."
Toward that end, the National Pork Board has hosted meetings with its food chain partners, sharing the innovation of current production practices and efforts to responsibly use antibiotics.
Since the U.S. pork industry introduced its new antibiotic stewardship plan in June, meetings have been held with animal health companies, packers and processors, and retail and foodservice leadership.
The National Pork Board has defined a three-point plan of action focused on five research priorities, shaping educational outreach to pig farmers and broadly sharing information with the retail and foodservice industries and pork consumers.
• Research – Investing $750,000 in new research projects that span five distinct priorities intended to provide data for animal and public health outcomes (pig health/welfare, human health/safety, environmental impact and pork quality).
• Education – Updating the Pork Quality Assurance® Plus (PQA Plus®) farmer certification program in 2016 and investing up to $400,000 in education and awareness programs to ensure pig farmers understand and adopt new Food and Drug Administration rules for the use of medically important antibiotics (to treat human illness) in feed and water.
• Communications – Gathering industry leaders for meetings on responsible antibiotic use and sharing the U.S. pork industry's story of continuous improvement with producers and consumer media through outreach, byline articles and advertisements.