Why hormones aren’t important, why antibiotics are

I want to point out that within the pork production industry, it is illegal for us to use any sort of growth-promoting hormone. Not only is pork that’s labeled as “hormone free” misleading, it’s just plain false.

As a caretaker of pigs, antibiotic resistance is a concern. That’s why the first thing we try to do is accurately diagnose an animal. If we know it’s a virus, there’s no reason for us to use an antibiotic. I want you to know we aren’t just using these tools freely. I want to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics, because they are needed to protect us and the animals we care for.

Considering the consequences

Are you concerned about antibiotic residues in food? I am too, but for different reasons. Any time we treat a pig, we have an FDA-mandated record that we have to keep for a year. It lists:
  • The animal treated
  • The day it was treated
  • What drug was used and how we used it (orally or injected)
  • How much was used
  • Withdrawal time on the antibiotic (how long the pig is separated from the food supply herd)
And then we sign our name to it.

When it comes time to harvest a pig, there are USDA inspectors testing for residue. They are testing areas where an antibiotic would be, where it leaves the body – the liver or kidneys.

If they find a residue, a huge fine is levied on a farm. And, the vet of record for that farm can get into major trouble, because their name is on a prescription. That kind of consequence ensures that nothing goes to harvest with an antibiotic residue.

Wesley Lyons

Wesley Lyons, DVM

About Wesley

Dr. Wesley Lyons is currently a veterinarian at Bethany Swine Health Services in Sycamore, IL. He received his Bachelor of Science in Animal Science from the University of Tennessee in 2010. He then attended the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine and received his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine in 2014. He started in mixed animal practice for a few months with his father, Dr. Chuck Lyons, before joining Pig Improvement Company as a Health Assurance Veterinarian.

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