Pork producers reminded of antibiotic withdrawal period

by Bryan Salvage
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DES MOINES — The National Pork Producers Council are reminding producers of feed/water tetracycline-class antibiotics (tetracycline, oxytetracycline or chlortetracycline) to make sure their use meets standards set by some U.S. pork export markets. U.S. pork producers are required to adhere to animal health-product withdrawal standards that meet U.S. maximum residue limits, according to the council.

These standards were determined through science-based testing by the Food and Drug Administration to ensure the safety of all products entering the national food chain. Some countries that purchase U.S. pork products, however, may have withdrawal requirements that exceed those on the product label.

Each country determines its own tissue-residue limits. Not all countries agree with the maximum tissue-residue limits set by the U.S. government, even though U.S. limits are based on scientifically sound food-safety data, said Steve Larsen, director of food safety for the Pork Checkoff.

Exports contributed $40.56 for every pig sold in the U.S. during 2008, according to the annual study conducted by University of Missouri economists Ron Plain and Glenn Grimes. Exports for 2009 are expected to fall below the record levels of 2008, but the economists say exports continue to make a positive contribution to hog prices.

Mr. Larsen said with the added pressure on U.S. pork exports in 2009, producers who sell to packers that market globally should take steps to help keep those markets open.

Specifically, producers are reminded to follow the voluntary 14-day withdrawal period for all feed/water tetracycline-class antibiotics. However, producers should follow the labeled directions for injectable tetracycline-class antibiotic products. Based on currently available information, a withdrawal of 14 days when using feed or water forms of tetracycline-class antibiotics should meet the residue limits of international markets for U.S. pork.

Producers are being urged to talk with their packers to understand the packer's policy if a residue greater than the tolerance for the international market is detected. Producers should also work with their veterinarian to consider product choices in the finisher phase and to develop appropriate treatment and withdrawal protocols, Mr. Larsen said.

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