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Beef & Antibiotics: Facts, Figures and Fundamentals

This issue: Preventing Illegal Antibiotic Residues in Beef Products 

By Brian Lubbers, DVM, PhD, DACVCP

The prevention of illegal antibiotic residues is a continuous, coordinated effort between government agencies, veterinarians, and livestock producers that begins before the antibiotics is ever used in animals. READ MORE

Retailers to Weigh in on Antibiotics in Next NIAA Symposium

The utilization of antibiotics in animal agriculture is coming under heavy fire today. Retailers are feeling the pressure from consumers to reduce the amount of meat on their shelves from animals that have been treated with antibiotics.

“Costco has been involved in this conversation for a long time,” said Craig Wilson, Vice President of Food Safety and Quality Assurance at Costco. “Consumers are very concerned with antibiotics even though they might not fully understand them.”

Wilson will be representing Costco at NIAA’s Antibiotic Stewardship: From Metrics to Management. With no preconceived expectations, Wilson says he hopes to learn from other speakers and participants about recommended antibiotic best practices and measurements.

Wilson and Costco support the proper use of antibiotics in animal agriculture. “We don’t want sick animals out there,” Wilson said. “We want to treat them when they are sick. [Even so], antibiotics should be reduced to get away from situations that have arisen with antibiotic resistant bacteria”

Another key issue in which Wilson hopes to gain more insight from the symposium is how to educate the public on the withdrawal times of antibiotics. That is, allowing sufficient time for antibiotics to be metabolized by the animal’s body, leading to no antibiotic residue in the meat. This needs to be addressed to help the consumer understand what is and is not in their food.

Consumers are requesting clarity on withdrawal periods, Wilson shared. “Consumers don’t fully understand that it is against the law to have antibiotics in meat. Suppliers are all on the same page that what we need is a simple definition of withdrawal which communicates easily to the public.

NIAA Antibiotic Stewardship: From Metrics to Management takes place November 3-5, 2015 in Atlanta, Ga. and is open to all individuals who want to learn from each other, engage in meaningful discussion and create successful strategies to safeguard antibiotic efficacy.

NIAA Council Chair Fourdraine Named Cooperative Resources International's VP of Research and Development

SHAWANO, Wisconsin — Cooperative Resources International (CRI) Senior Vice President of Business Development Pete Giacomini announced he has named Robert Fourdraine the cooperative’s Vice President of Research and Development. In this role, Fourdraine will be responsible for all aspects of CRI research and biotechnological services. This encompasses internal research activities at the International Center for Biotechnology and other CRI locations along with external research grant funding supported by CRI.

“Robert’s 20-year career and past record of accomplishments in the livestock industry make him well qualified for improving the focus and effectiveness of CRI’s overall research programming,” states Giacomini. “Under Robert’s leadership, CRI will expand the impact of the International Center for Biotechnology across all CRI subsidiaries – AgSource Cooperative Services, Genex Cooperative, Inc. and MOFA Global. This will help set the course for CRI’s strategic positioning.”

Most recently, Fourdraine served as Vice President of DHI Operations for AgSource. During that time he led the development of several innovative information and management tools for its members and customers. Prior to that, he served as the Chief Operating Officer of the Wisconsin Livestock Identification Consortium.

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NIAA Leaders named among other veterinarians to Ag Secretary's Animal Health Advisory Committee

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently announced the members of the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Animal Health.

Among those who have been appointed to serve on the committee through June 2017 are a few NIAA leaders. Dr. Mark J. Engle, technical services manager, swine business unit, for Merck Animal Health and Dr. Annette Jones, state veterinarian and director of animal health and food safety services from California. Jones is Past Chairman of the Board and Engle currently serves on the Board of Directors.

The committee will provide outside perspectives on U.S. Department of Agriculture strategies, policies and programs to prevent, control and/or eradicate animal health diseases, according to a USDA news release. The committee also will lead broader dialogue on public health concerns and the stability of the livestock economies, the release said.

The committee’s next meeting will take place in the coming months.


We can keep antibiotics as a precious resource for all creatures

Recently, I presented my views about antibiotic stewardship and the future of antibiotic use in the cattle industry to a group of cattle feeders and was approached to put those thoughts on paper.

Here are some of them.

First, I must give you a couple of my personality quirks. I prefer to do public speaking to writing, so forgive me if this is not a masterpiece. Moreover, I am an eternal optimist and that optimism continues to grow the older I get. I believe in "continuous improvement," and this theme will resonate throughout this article. 

Also, please don't expect many facts and figures in the article. The older and more experienced I get, the more I realize to connect with anyone you first have to connect to their thoughts and biases. Rarely do facts and figures accomplish that connection, at least not by themselves. 

So, let's explore the title of this article. A precious resource conjures up many thoughts in many different ways. In the field of medicine - all medicine - few discoveries have assisted medical professionals more in our duty and honor as care­takers of the animal and people kingdoms. No one paying attention to health anywhere on our planet will argue the importance of the amazing tool of antibiotics, for all creatures. 

As an agriculture medical professional and enthusiast at all geographical and food-support levels, I have never doubted, even for a second, the welfare need for antibiotics in caring for our animals. I have never questioned the stewardship in using antibiotics for managing animal groups, be it herds, flocks or fish. But, here we are today, being asked to actively participate in protecting the future utility of antibiotics for humans, primarily, but animals, as well, as a very close second priority. 

Make no mistake about it, when antibiotics are used it puts pressure on the bacteria to find ways to survive in the presence of the antibiotics. Said another way, the more antibiotics are used, the more likely the bacteria will find ways to survive. 

To complicate managing this medical intervention even more, the most powerful antibiotics need to be developed and then not used until they are the last resort. This breaks all the rules of business: invest heavily, develop well and then put on the shelf and not use aggressively.

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