A program developed to guide U.S. hog producers and veterinarians on the responsible use of antibiotics to preserve animal health and protect public health has been developed by the National Pork Board.

The program, funded by the Pork Checkoff and known as the "Take Care - Use Antibiotics Responsibly," is now available to all pork producers, the NPB said Tuesday.

The program consists of "responsible use" principles and guidelines intended to guide producers and veterinarians through an assessment of the need for antibiotics and their appropriate use and disposal, according to the NPB. The program also incorporates other practices detailed in the checkoff's Pork Quality Assurance program.

"We recognized the concerns associated with the use of antibiotics in pork production, analyzed the way they are used in this industry, consulted with producers and subject matter experts and developed a reference manual on antibiotic use for producers and veterinarians," said Dave Culbertson, an Illinois pork producer and president of the National Pork Board. "The program is practical, yet it is based on sound science and the experience of many industry and non-industry professionals."

NPB said the Take Care program is an example of industry-wide cooperation. Developed by pork producers on the Pork Safety Committee and the Pharmaceutical Issues Task Force, it also received input from the pharmaceutical and feed industries, the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Pork Producers Council.

"As pork producers, we are concerned about more than what happens on our farms," said Culbertson. "Producers and their veterinarians can rely on this program's content to help them decide when and how to use antibiotics and consumers can rely on our industry to provide safe, wholesome pork products."

Source: Association Release