Australian red meat producers work hard to keep the animals in their care for from getting sick, through preventative vaccines, good biosecurity, good nutrition and careful monitoring. Sometimes, though, like with humans, antibiotics are needed to make animals well again. These antibiotics have no impact on meat safety.
Beef farmer Stuart Tait explains how minimising antibiotic use is a priority on his farm.
Antibiotics for use in livestock are approved by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA). All antibiotics undergo a rigorous pre-approval process where the safety to animals, humans and the environment is assessed, and residues in edible beef products are monitored. The APVMA publishes antibiotic withholding periods and export slaughter intervals (the minimum time between animals receiving a veterinary prescribed medication and their slaughter).
The National Feedlot Accreditation Scheme also prescribes that withholding periods and export slaughter intervals for treated animals are adhered to, helping maintain the safety of Australian meat.
The Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment conducts a National Residue Survey of cattle , sheep and goats to monitor the levels of, and associated risks from, pesticides and veterinary medicine residues and contaminants in Australian food products.
The cattle program involves the testing of animal tissue samples for a range of pesticides, veterinary medicines and environmental contaminants. In 2020–21, the overall compliance with Australian standards by Australian beef producers was 99.96%, 99.86% by lamb producers and 99.33% by goat producers. That means that the industry continues to demonstrate a high degree of good agricultural practice.
Minimising animal stress during red meat production is not just the right thing to do, it also produces higher quality meat.
The red meat industry has stringent animal welfare standards, and aims to be recognised as world leaders in animal health, welfare and production practices.