In the “Cutting Antibiotics: Moving the Marketplace” webinar, stakeholders shared their perspectives on the threat of antibiotic resistance and how meat producers could be part of the solution.
“We really have to approach the tackling of antibiotic resistance from all perspectives. It requires collaboration across all aspects of veterinary medicine, farms, and human medicine to promote judicious antibiotic use. One thing we should learn from the COVID-19 pandemic is that an infectious disease is everybody’s problem,” said Sameer Patel, MD MPH on the webinar.
Other panelists stressed that consumers have the ability to push for change.
“The consumers, in the long run, are the ones that dictate what the industry actually does. If they want more antibiotic free products, the industry will have to change what they’re doing and make it work,” said John Tarpoff, vice president of beef at Niman Ranch & Panorama Organic Grass-fed Beef.
Industrial farms use these drugs to prevent disease in animals raised in unsanitary, overcrowded and stressful conditions. The routine use of these medically important antibiotics breeds drug resistant bacteria that can spread off farms and get people sick.
“Ultimately it comes down to where the pressure is coming from and where the incentives are at. If it’s from consumers, it’s important to ask more questions and demand clarity about where their meat is coming from,” said Joseph Fischer, sales manager at Fischer Farms.
A landmark study estimated that without swift action to stop antibiotic overuse, drug-resistant infections across the world could claim 10 million lives annually by 2050. Nearly two thirds of the antibiotics considered important to human medicine that are sold in the U.S. go to meat production.