Hormel Foods along with other organizations announced a comprehensive framework to strengthen stewardship of antibiotic use in food animals.
We understand the importance of using antibiotics responsibly in all settings, including animal agriculture, and our responsibility to reduce the use of medically important antibiotics in order to maintain their effectiveness.
Protecting human health and the health of our animals is of the utmost importance and we are proud of our ongoing stewardship efforts:
- Reducing the use of antibiotics – Reducing the need for antibiotics has been and continues to be important to us. We continue to focus our efforts on keeping our animals healthy so that antibiotics aren’t needed. For example, we employ seven veterinarians at our Jennie-O Turkey Store subsidiary — more than any other turkey company in the industry — and partnered with a leading animal veterinary clinic to help define long-term health strategies for our company-owned farm. We also continue to research ways to use products such as probiotics and phytobiotics to maintain animal health and welfare for turkeys. In addition, veterinarians monitor and evaluate the health and welfare of all of 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 guidelines 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.
- Raised without antibiotics – Hormel Foods has invested in producing raised-without-antibiotics products. In fact, our purchase of Applegate is 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, our Jennie-O Turkey Store subsidiary produces several raised-without-antibiotics products.
- Partnerships – To further demonstrate our commitment to this important issue, in 2015 we formed an Antibiotic Working Group comprised of internal subject-matter experts, leading non-governmental organizations, including the Pew Charitable Trusts and Farm Foundation, veterinarians and other stakeholders to discuss and continue to advance this important industry topic. We also review and explore research opportunities and participate in industry antibiotic initiatives.
In calendar year 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 that 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 that 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.
A key component of the industry framework is reporting and measurement. Hormel Foods is working with others in the industry to create a systemwide measurement plan and protocol that can be used consistently within the farm industry.