Jolley: Cargill does good, KAW coughs up a hairball

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Food Safety News reported Cargill will begin phasing out antibiotics “based on consumer research and feedback.” In the same story, the Grinch-like Steven Roach, a senior analyst with Keep Antibiotics Working (KAW), grumbled that while it’s encouraging that the company is recognizing what its consumers want, the move is not enough to address the rise of antibiotic resistance.

And I'll note that neither what the company has done nor what consumers want is based on science. It's a decision made necessary based on the carefully crafted emotional attack promoted by groups like KAW.  It's the usual "Chicken Little" approach that predicts a SPECTRE (SPecial Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion) of impending doom straight out of Thunderball, a 1960's James Bond flick. 

Wisely, the Cargill decision isn't a complete ban of antibiotics.  That kind of overreaction would be tantamount to animal abuse. The company said antibiotics will still be used for treating illnesses and for disease prevention. Roach, however, fears that antibiotic use won’t decrease because it will simply be labeled as “disease prevention” in place of “growth promotion.”

“This is too little, too late,” Roach said, “and if they want to get ‘kudos’ for doing something, they should go beyond what FDA is mandating.”

Even if Roach won't, I'll give kudos to Cargill for resisting unlettered, misdirected public opinion and using scientific data to make their decision. I think they fully understand that most antibiotics used in animal agriculture are not used to treat human health issues.  Completely ending animal antibiotics tomorrow would do almost nothing to solve the growing problem of antibiotic resistance in those 'bugs' that attack human health.  KWA would be much more effective if they would work harder on the serious problem caused by the over-prescription of drugs by the family physician.  Roach's cavalier dismissal of Cargill's efforts as "a marketing campaign for how people view their product" is a real tree barker, but he's woofing at the base of the wrong tree. 

Nothing like snapping and snarling at undergrowth when a sequoia is standing nearby.

“While this decision has the potential to modestly reduce overall antibiotic use for our turkeys, the health and wellness of turkeys is extremely important to Cargill, and we do not want animals to suffer due to illness,” Mike Martin, Cargill’s director of communications, told Food Safety News. “Antibiotics allow us to prevent, control and treat disease in our turkey flocks. That’s why, under the USDA Process Verified Program, antibiotics will still be administered under the direction of a veterinarian. We want to ensure that only healthy animals are used for food.”

And let me add, that sick animals will be treated quickly and humanely, a necessary step in animal agriculture that KWA seems to ignore.

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Neil McNeill    
St Louis MO  |  July, 21, 2014 at 09:20 AM

Is it KWA or KAW - is there another organization involved or acronym that we're missing or did the proofreader miss the correct acronym three times (once in the headline ! !) ? Its a little thing but it sure effects understanding.

Kansas  |  July, 24, 2014 at 08:16 AM

It's KAW (Keep Antibiotics Working). The proofing error was in the last reference (KWA). Good catch.

OH  |  July, 22, 2014 at 07:59 PM

If Roach and KAW saw Jesus Christ walking on water... they would gripe that he cant swim.

Kansas  |  July, 24, 2014 at 08:17 AM

And they would point out that He was annoying the fish, too.

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