September 26, 2011
US pork farmers use six times more antibiotics than Danish producers
The US farmers uses approximately six times more antibiotics to produce about 1kg of meat as compared to Danish counterparts, according to a Danish food official.
Henrik Caspar Wegener, director of the National Food Institute in Denmark, said during a panel session at a Chicago conference, "My main advice for the US is that all antibiotics used on animals should be given only with a prescription."
"That's not the case at the moment. Antibiotics are medicines. They should be prescribed by someone educated to make that decision," Wegener said.
By requiring prescriptions for all antibiotics, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) can make more-informed decisions about how antibiotics are used and give them insight on how a reduction can be achieved, he said. In addition, more data may help officials persuade the US meat-producing industry to change its practices, Wegener said.
Resistant infections in human medicine would cost the US more than US$20 billion annually, a 2009 study reported.
At the moment, antibiotics are available by prescription, in an animal's feed with the approval of a veterinarian, and over-the-counter without a prescription. The FDA issued draft guidance at the end of June, last year, which would require veterinarian approval for all antibiotics, eliminating over-the-counter availability. The guidance is not yet final.
Liz Wagstrom, chief veterinarian at the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) agreed with the call for more surveillance. However, Wagstrom added that requiring prescriptions would be more difficult in the US than in Denmark, due to the US's larger size and less homogeneous population, making tracking difficult.