Friday, October 30, 2015

Pork industry answers Subway antibiotic ban

The United States pork industry paid for a full-page ad in the largest newspaper, the Wall Street Journal, to say that Subway sandwich chain is making a mistake in declaring it will only serve pork and beef raised without antibiotics.

Subway has 27,000 restaurants in the U.S. and wants them to be meeting the new standard by early next year.

The pork industry says this is foolish because it means farmers won’t be able to use antibiotics to treat sick pigs.

“Subway is not saying ‘no’ just to those antibiotics used in human medicine. Subway isn’t saying ‘use antibiotics only when animals are sick.’ Subway is saying no antibiotics ever – even when animal health and safety could be at risk,” says the pork-industry ad.

“We think that such a policy could compromise the safety of our food system.

“Sick animals in the food system are not a good idea.

“Healthy animals help farmers produce safe food,” the ad says.

“How will a hog farmer react to a fast-moving disease outbreak that could have been prevented with medicine administered in time? The potential for thousands of animals to unnecessarily die or suffer is a real possibility. These are the consequences that farmers will have to face.”

The ad was signed “America’s Pig Farmers” and directs readers to, a website of the We Care initiative, which was launched in 2008 as a joint effort of the National Pork Board, the National Pork Producers Council and state organizations representing farmers.

The National Pork Producers has a checkoff fund to spend on research and communications. The Canadian pork-producer industry is seeking federal government approval to set up a similar mandatory checkoff agency.

Subway’s move is a departure from recent announcements of other major retail and foodservice companies, which supported Guidance 209 and 213 and Veterinarian Feed Directive (VFD) compliance and what is seen as the responsible use of antimicrobials.

“America’s pork farmers support the responsible use of antibiotics, but Subway’s decision on antibiotics use in the production of pork, beef and poultry – and urging others to make the same decision – will leave farmers without any solutions to treat animals that are sick and suffering. 

"That’s immoral and inhumane, and farmers aren’t willing to do that. Enough is enough,” the ad says.