By Chris Chinn, pig farmer

Are you worried about antibiotic use on farms? What mixed messages have you heard and how do you know what to believe? As a farmer, I challenge you to take a step back and learn what antibiotics really are and how farmers use them.

SUBWAY recently made the announcement that it will transition to serving only protein from animals that have never received antibiotics. I understand consumers’ desire – and I’m one of them – to understand more about the food they’re buying and eating. As a mother and farmer, I would never feed my family something that is not safe.

Having worked with animals, I can also tell you that some of what you may hear or read about antibiotics is a myth. Antibiotics are just one option in our toolbox that we use only when necessary. We use them as a medicine to treat sick animals – not doing so would be irresponsible, inhumane and cause needless suffering.

In the same way people interact with their doctor when they’re sick, veterinarians are our animals’ doctors – when our pigs are sick, the veterinarian will work with us to analyze symptoms and prescribe medication. Antibiotics are administered under the guidance of our veterinarian, including directions for usage and dosage.

In addition, we closely monitor animals that we’ve given medication/antibiotics to, and we keep records to ensure the pigs have met strict withdrawal times for the antibiotics to have left their systems. To keep antibiotic residue out of food, it’s actually against the law for us to market a pig that hasn’t completed this withdrawal period.

The appropriate use of antibiotics on farms when animals are sick is important, not only for the health and well-being of the animal but also to ensure we as farmers and ranchers continue to raise animals that become part of a safe food supply. It’s a responsibility we take seriously, for our own families and yours.