The pork industry’s responsibility is to provide an excellent product to the consumer and ensure that it is safe to eat. The consumer’s trust is fragile, so the pork industry must be diligent in ensuring that the product is antibiotic-free at the time of marketing. Pork producers also receive hefty fines and increased scrutiny if antibiotic residues are present in their finished product. This article will offer some solutions to managing antibiotic withdrawal periods due to the ethical and financial circumstances surrounding this issue.
One measure that can be taken is to post signage on all the entries into the barn highlighting withdrawal times for antibiotics used on location. This sign should have the antibiotics with longer withdrawal times at the top and shorter withdrawal times at the bottom. It would also help group the antibiotics in similar withdrawal times. The signage should have straightforward, easy to read language to eliminate any possible confusion about when certain antibiotic use is proper or improper. If there is signage where employees or managers are every day, it serves as a physical reminder for antibiotic withdrawal times.
A second layer of precaution is to have veterinarians schedule their site visits in conjunction with antibiotic withdrawal times. The veterinarian can also take the antibiotics with longer withdrawal times off-site or lock them in a box on-site with the sole key in the veterinarian’s possession. By doing this, it eliminates any potential for antibiotics that could violate meat residues at the packer. This approach also requires a more hands-on approach for the veterinarian. Still, if sites are continuously having problems with antibiotic withdrawal times, this solution offers the opportunity to educate staff on antibiotic usage.
Another protective measure is to use existing software solutions to avoid violating withdrawal periods. EveryPig has two options to help with antibiotic withdrawals. One is to use automentions – where individuals can get notifications about antibiotic use within a given production system. This program allows another set of eyes to view antibiotic usage and ensure there are no violative residues within the carcass.
Another functionality inside EveryPig is withdrawal warnings for caregivers (pictured below) – when activated the app clearly provides a date when pigs can be marketed based on antibiotic usage and appropriate withdrawal periods. This feature helps ensure that there is no confusion as to when pigs are ready for market. See more on these helpful functionalities – automentions here and withdrawal warnings here or watch a video located here for information on both functionalities.
The consumer cares now more than ever about keeping antibiotics out of their food, and as an industry, pork producers must continue to improve the control of how antibiotics are being used in their systems. Avoiding antibiotic withdrawal period violations saves producers from extremely expensive fines. Implementing some easy steps, such as: adding signage posted around the production location, increasing veterinary farm visits around marketing time and embracing easy to use technology like EveryPig, will help keep pork producers in business and ensure healthy and happy customers.
-Dr. C. Grace Elijah for EveryPig