National Chicken Council Senior Vice President of Scientific and Regulatory Affairs, Ashley Peterson, Ph.D., joined more than 150 animal and human health stakeholders at a "White House Forum on Antibiotic Stewardship" in Washington, DC on June 2.
Peterson delivered the following remarks at the forum:
"Our members, consisting of chicken processors and producers, and allied industry leaders, work together to provide approximately 95 percent of the chicken on America's tables. Chicken producers share the concern and desire to preserve antibiotic effectiveness in both human and animal medicine.
"The top priority of farmers and chicken companies is to raise healthy chickens because healthy chickens are directly related to a safe and wholesome food supply. Responsible, FDA-approved veterinary treatment and prevention benefits animal welfare and health by reducing the need for increased doses of shared-class antibiotics in the event of widespread disease.
"The vast majority of the antibiotics that we use are never used in human medicine. The majority are from a class called ionophores which are used in animals only and are critically important to chicken producers to maintain the gut health of our birds.
"Our industry supports FDA Guidance 209 and 213, and we recognize the responsibility of the industry to implement the recommendations to phase out the use of medically-important antibiotics for growth promotion. All of our member companies are already eliminating their use for growth promotion and most are moving far in advance of regulatory deadlines for compliance. We also support FDA's Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD), finalized today, as veterinary oversight is important to continued success. Today, all chicken farms are under a health program designed by a licensed veterinarian.
"We are in the business of providing choice in the marketplace, without compromising the health and welfare of our birds or the safety of our products. The chicken industry has been a leader in proactively and voluntarily taking steps toward finding alternative ways to control disease while reducing antibiotic use. Approximately one-third of broiler chicken companies currently produce chicken raised without antibiotics and/or organic chicken products. Many of our members have already made or are making stewardship commitments. We believe this trend will continue. Finding ways to raise chickens without antibiotics is the latest example of an industry committed to innovation. But we can't do that alone; we will continue to partner with animal health companies, veterinarians, our farmers, the FDA and the White House to achieve our shared goals.
"A primary focus of our industry is the welfare of our flocks and we need
effective tools to keep them healthy – including, and in addition to,
antibiotics to make this happen. True success is determined by a decrease in
resistance and ensuring the effectiveness of antibiotics in both human and
"The National Chicken Council looks forward to working with the USDA and FDA to define metrics for success related to antibiotic data collection, and to pursue further research in the area of antibiotic resistance and antibiotic alternatives."