CBS Evening News, featuring Katie Couric, has scheduled a two-part report on antimicrobial use in food-animal production. Baring major breaking news that would delay the reports, the series is scheduled for evening news broadcasts next week -- possibly Feb. 9 and 10. (The newscast begins at 5:30 p.m. CST.)

The reports are expected to feature CBS news anchor, Kathy Couric, and will look at both meat and poultry production. A CBS production crew has filmed organic and conventional pork production systems, as well as a Pennsylvania organic turkey grower among other entities. The National Pork Board provided Liz Wagstrom, assistant vice president of science and technology for the Pork Checkoff to speak on behalf of the pork industry.

CBS interviewed Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), who has a bill pending in the U.S. House to control antimicrobial use in food-animal production. Also in the mix is likely to be Ellen Silbergreld, of John Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Center for a Livable Future. Silbergeld has been a vocal opponent of modern poultry and livestock production practices. She was the lead author of a technical report the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production commissioned on antimicrobial use titled "Industrial Farm Animal Production, Antimicrobial Resistance and Human Health."

"Feedback from the (CBS) producers suggests the segments will be highly critical of livestock and poultry production," says Dave Warner, National Pork Producers Council.

National Pork Board (NPB) has been working with CBS to provide insight and information on antimicrobial use and modern pork production, notes Cindy Cunningham, NPB's vice president of media relations. "We know that the topic of antibiotics will continue to be a significant issue and we want to be sure there's good, accurate information out there."

In that vein, NPB will be updating its Facts about Pork resource for consumers and producers with new antibiotic information. Also, producers can find helpful guidance at NPB's Web site

The two CBS reports follow last week's "Nightline" report on ABC News that looked at animal-handling and other practices within the dairy industry and a Dec. 29, Associated Press article on antimicrobial use in pork production. 

"This is not a coincidence," notes one industry observer. "This activity is likely a push for Congress to implement more controls over antimicrobial use."

Source: Porkmag (sister publication to Dairy Herd Management)