National Pork Producers Council responds to ’60 Minutes’ story

The National Pork Producers Council has responded to a story from ’60 Minutes’ that aired on Jan. 5. The story centered around antibiotic use and food safety in the pork industry.

The NPPC said that interviews for the piece took place in October of 2019 and only about two minutes of an 80-minute interview with the organization’s chief veterinarian, Dr. Liz Wagstrom, were used.

“The U.S. pork industry has an excellent food safety record and NPPC is proud to represent hog farmers who provide the safest, healthiest and most affordable pork in the world,” the NPPC said in a release.

The NPPC also laid out rebuttals on the reporting of ’60 Minutes’ in four areas: food safety, use of antibiotics, the New Swine Inspection System and farm biosecurity.

In terms of food safety, the NPPC called the U.S. pork production system “the envy of the world and yields the safest, highest-quality and most affordable pork available.”

The organization added that U.S. producers must adhered to strict government regulations and production standards as defined by the Pork Quality Assurance Plus program.

“Food safety truly is a team effort - from the farm to processing facilities to consumers who must be informed about food handling and cooking temperatures,” the NPPC said.

The NPPC also defended the use of antibiotics.

“U.S. pork producers have been committed to responsible antibiotic use for decades. They supported regulations adopted three years ago requiring veterinary oversight and limiting the use of antibiotics important for human medicine,” the NPPC said. “These regulations and the industry’s PQA Plus certification program require farmers to form client-patient relationships with licensed veterinarians.”

It was also noted that only veterinarians can prescribe antibiotics on the farm and antibiotic sales used for livestock is down 41 percent.

Additionally, the NPPC defended the recently finalized New Swine Inspection System, which is designed to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of federal inspections. The organization called the new system a modernization of pork inspection.

“It’s important to know that the USDA maintains absolute authority and accountability for inspection. Like any industry, the pork industry is focused on continually improving and incorporating technologies that improve the way we raise animals and produce safe pork products.”

Finally, the NPPC noted that farmers follow strict biosecurity protocols.

“While on-farm access is limited, the U.S. pork industry is highly regulated and USDA conducts surveys on farms periodically and makes these findings available,” the organization said. “NPPC has actively advocated for USDA funding required to gather more farm data that supports the industry’s commitment to continuous improvement.”