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Statement of North American Meat Institute President and CEO Barry Carpenter on American Academy of Pediatrics Report on Antibiotics

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Washington, DC -- “We share the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) desire to ensure that children have a safe and wholesome food supply and we respect their desire to engage in the important issue of antibiotic resistance. However, we are disappointed that AAP relied on old data and outdated policies and practices in reaching their conclusions. We are also surprised that AAP cites a misleading statistic that 80 percent of antibiotics are used in livestock – a claim that has been debunked many times, including in our own Media MythCrusher.

Notably, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in its report on antibiotic resistance reached quite a different conclusion. In a press conference to release the report, CDC Director Thomas Frieden, M.D., said, “The most acute problem is in hospitals. And the most resistant organisms in hospitals are emerging in those settings, because of poor antimicrobial stewardship among humans.”

In its report, CDC said that livestock producers have an important role to play in preventing resistance -- and we agree. In fact, in contrast to AAP’s report, livestock producers and meat packers and processors support Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidance to discontinue the use of medically important antibiotics for livestock growth promotion and are actively implementing the guidance.

As long as livestock exist, some will get sick, and occasionally, individual animals and sometimes full herds will need to be given antibiotics to ensure their health and welfare. Veterinarians choose antibiotics carefully to ensure the best medical decision that assures animal health and minimizes the development of antibiotic resistance. But anytime an antibiotic is given to a food producing animal, strict withdrawal periods are followed to ensure that no residues remain in meat when animals are processed. Federal data show that antibiotic residues are not a concern in the U.S. meat supply.

Meat and poultry are important parts of healthy, balanced diets and the nutrition they contain are critical in supporting healthy bodies and brains of growing children. We are proud that our products play such an important role in children’s diets.”

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