We have published a report that provides more details about our antibiotic stewardship program and metrics from some of the farms in our supply chain.
We understand the importance of using antibiotics responsibly in all settings, including animal agriculture. That’s why we are committed to advancing our antibiotic stewardship efforts and piloting an antibiotic use measurement and reporting system through our 20 By 30 Challenge,
We have not only invested in raising animals without antibiotics, we have also been stewards of alternative approaches to animal health and well-being to minimize the need for antibiotics. We never use medically important antibiotics for growth promotion, feed efficiency or weight gain.
Protecting human health and the health of our animals is of the utmost importance, and we are proud of our ongoing stewardship efforts. We focus our efforts the following ways:
- Reducing the use of antibiotics — Reducing the need for antibiotics has been and continues to be important to us. We focus our efforts on keeping our animals healthy so antibiotics aren’t needed. For example, we employ seven veterinarians at our Jennie-O Turkey Store subsidiary and partnered with a leading veterinary clinic to help define long-term health strategies for our company-owned sow farm. We also continue to research ways to use products such as prebiotics, probiotics and essential oils to maintain turkey health and welfare (learn more here in our white paper). In addition, veterinarians monitor and evaluate the health and welfare of all our animals, as well as our antibiotic use, on an ongoing basis.
- Responsible use of antibiotics — We comply with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s industry guidance that eliminates the use of medically important antibiotics for growth promotion. While we continue to make reductions in antibiotic use, we believe the responsible use of antibiotics includes the appropriate treatment of sick animals. When antibiotics are needed to properly care for an animal, only approved medications and dosage levels are used under the direction of a veterinarian. In addition, Hormel Foods has a leading animal welfare auditing program, and ensuring the responsible use of antibiotics is a key part of that program.
- Producing raised-without-antibiotics products — Hormel Foods has invested in producing raised-without-antibiotics products. In fact, our Applegate® brand represents a significant commitment in this regard. Our Applegate® product portfolio is produced entirely from animals raised without antibiotics. If antibiotics are given to an animal, that animal does not enter the Applegate supply chain. In addition, we offer several raised-without-antibiotics foodservice items, Columbus® products and Jennie-O® products.
- Partnering with stakeholders — To further demonstrate our commitment to this important issue, in 2015 we formed an antibiotic working group comprised of internal subject-matter experts, leading nongovernmental organizations, including the Pew Charitable Trusts and Farm Foundation, independent veterinarians and other stakeholders to discuss and continue to advance this important industry topic. We also review and explore research opportunities and will continue to participate in industry antibiotic initiatives. Additionally, we are working to support broader dialogue around the challenges of addressing antimicrobial resistance through membership in the Business Council of the United Nations as well as the National Institute of Antimicrobial Resistance Research and Education.
In 2018, Hormel Foods, along with other food companies, retailers, livestock producers, and trade and professional associations, announced a comprehensive framework to strengthen stewardship of antibiotic use in food animals. The framework was part of a two-year dialogue with stakeholders, moderated by the Farm Foundation and Pew Charitable Trusts, to ensure antibiotics are used judiciously throughout production to protect animal and public health.
The 15 core components of the antibiotic stewardship framework are based on the importance of veterinary guidance and partnership, disease prevention strategies and optimal treatment approaches, as well as effective record-keeping and a culture of continuous improvement and commitment to antibiotic stewardship. The components address education, implementation and evaluation steps for phasing in stewardship programs. The framework’s guiding principles are intended to help ensure stewardship programs have a clear scientific basis, are transparent, minimize the risk of unintended consequences, encourage alternatives to antibiotics, and focus on long-term sustainability.
We are proud to share more about our efforts in our Antibiotic Stewardship Report. In alignment with our 20 By 30 Challenge goal to pilot an antibiotic use measurement and reporting system, this special supplemental report provides more details about our antibiotic stewardship program and metrics from some of the farms in our supply chain. This comprehensive and transparent report provides antibiotic usage data over the last few years for most of Jennie-O Turkey Store’s turkey supply, as well as for three systems that support our Hormel Foods pork supply. In addition, the report provides detailed information about our antibiotic stewardship program, which is based on four principals: management, preventive medicine, veterinary oversight and continuous improvement.
We are also committed to the following next steps:
- We will strive to achieve a 10% year-over-year reduction in medically important antibiotic use at our company-owned turkey farms and company-owned sow farm, with the understanding that health challenges may arise that could result in the goal not being met during certain years.
- We began including the use of medically important antibiotics, by class, in our antibiotic stewardship report for our company-owned turkey farms and our company-owned sow farm in 2021. We will include the use of medically important antibiotics, by class, for the remaining farms that are already included in our antibiotic stewardship report beginning with calendar year 2022.
- We will strive to eliminate the routine use of medically important antibiotics at our Jennie-O Turkey Store farms beginning in 2022, and on our company-owned sow farm by 2025.* We currently use one medically important antibiotic at our company-owned sow farm. We will launch a study in 2022 with our veterinary partner to identify the changes needed to eliminate the routine use of this antibiotic (such as potential management changes and husbandry techniques). Subsequently, we will implement any identified changes as long as they align with our high animal welfare standards.
- We will look for an opportunity to pilot the Certified Responsible Antibiotic Use (CRAU) Pork Standard with a partner supplier from wean to finish.
We will report our progress on these commitments in future reports, our antibiotic stewardship reports and on our corporate website.
*As defined in the “Critically Important Antimicrobials for Human Medicine: 6th Revision” by the World Health Organization. Routine use means antibiotic use for disease prevention purposes. For example, treating all animals in a flock or herd at a certain time as a regular practice (such as at weaning or before shipping) is by definition routine use even if administered to individual animals of that flock or herd by injection. In addition, antibiotics delivered through animal feed, water, injectable or any other delivery mechanism, to a group of animals that has not been diagnosed with a transmissible bacterial infection is also considered routine use.