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News and analysis on the global poultry
and animal feed industries.
Broilers & Layers / Poultry Welfare
on January 30, 2014

Consumers have more knowledge, concerns about animal antibiotic use

Meat and poultry industries must work to assure what consumers know about antibiotics is correct

A recent poll conducted by Midan Marketing showed that 88 percent of consumers know about the use of antibiotics in production of poultry and livestock, while 55 percent of those polled say they are concerned about animal antibiotic use. But after digging deeper, Midan Marketing revealed that consumers may not know as much about animal antibiotic use as they may think, which poses additional challenges for the poultry and livestock industries.

Danette Amstein, Midan Marketing principal, shared the survey findings and other experiences concerning consumers and their perceptions about animal antibiotic use on January 29 at the International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE) in Atlanta.

The problem with the recent surge in consumer awareness of animal antibiotic use is that it is mostly the negative aspects that are being shared. And as a result, many consumers do not know about the positives in using antibiotics to keep animals healthy.

Among those polled, 19 percent of those polled know that antibiotics are used in animal production to prevent disease, 24 percent knew that antibiotics help keep animals healthy and 18 percent knew that antibiotics can cure illness. And while they knew these truths, Amstein said 13 percent falsely believed antibiotic use increases animal size. Additionally, only 14 percent of people surveyed believed that there are no residues of antibiotics in the meat and poultry products once they reach the grocery store.

But once people polled were educated about the truths of animal antibiotic use, they gained a greater understanding that animal antibiotic use helps keep animals healthy, and that most producers and veterinarians only use antibiotics judiciously. But there will still be plenty of people who are worried that the use of antibiotics in poultry and livestock can create a human resistance to antibiotics, Amstein said, despite the fact that overuse of antibiotics in human health can be an even bigger contributor to developing resistance.

Along with increased awareness and concerns about animal antibiotic use comes curiosity, and Amstein told those in attendance that the poultry and livestock industries need to make the most of that curiosity.

"They have the right to ask those questions, and you have the privilege of answering those. Think about it as a privilege because we can create a dialogue with consumers, and when we create that dialogue and we educate, we put them in a position to understand and make things a whole lot less scary," said Amstein.

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