Dr. Hongwei Xin was recognized for his years of service to the egg industry at the Egg Industry Forum on April 17. He previously served as the director of the Egg Industry Center (EIC) and assistant dean and a Charles F. Curtiss Distinguished Professor in the Departments of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering and Animal Science at Iowa State University. On April 1, Xin began his new position as dean for AgResearch at the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture.
In an interview with WattAG, Dr. Xin said “This change of position was not an easy decision, and a big part of that was the wonderful people in this industry. However, I am confident that the center and the industry will continue to move forward in this beautiful partnership that has developed.”
Dr. Xin is the Chair of UEP’s independent Environmental Scientific Panel (ESP) and plans to continue in this role. “Dr. Xin has been a friend, leader and dependable researcher to UEP and the egg community for more than 20 years,” said UEP President Chad Gregory.
Susan J. Lamont, a Charles .F. Curtiss Distinguished Professor of Agriculture and Life Sciences and animal science professor, has been appointed the EIC interim director.
Egg farmers are committed to producing safe, high-quality eggs and keeping their hens healthy and free from disease. “The first and most important step is prevention. But if a hen gets sick, the humane thing to do may include giving antibiotics to help it return to good health. Not only is that what’s best for the hen, it also helps make our eggs safer,” said Dr. Larry Sadler, UEP’s Vice President of Animal Welfare.
Egg farms may use a limited number of FDA-approved antibiotics, provided they comply with FDA guidelines for usage. The FDA sets standards that let farms know exactly how much medication to give to help an animal recover from an illness. These strict FDA regulations and regular testing are designed to ensure antibiotic residues are not found in eggs in the food supply. Due to the effective use of vaccines and on-farm disease prevention, only a small percentage of egg-laying flocks ever receive antibiotics. If they do, it is under the supervision of a veterinarian and only for a short time to treat a specific disease or to prevent a recurring disease.
Eggs from hens treated with antibiotics cannot enter the food supply until they are totally safe. It’s important to know eggs can only be labeled as antibiotic-free if egg farmers choose not to use any antibiotics in feed or water as the pullets (young hens) are growing or when hens are laying eggs. Certified organic eggs must be antibiotic-free by regulation.
When FDA started tracking antibiotic sales for food-producing animals in the U.S., there was a steady increase in use, but in the past few years, a new trend has emerged. Sales of antibiotics important to human health have dropped 41% since 2015. Chickens account for only five percent of the estimated sales of medically important antibiotics.
Making sure antibiotics remain safe and effective is an important responsibility shared by many, including farmers, veterinarians, and animal health companies. Well before the FDA issued guidance and regulations related to antibiotic use, the American Association of Avian Pathologists (AAAP), with the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), developed judicious use policies.
In addition to their commitment to safe eggs and hen welfare, egg farmers work hard to protect the environment to ensure a sustainable future.
UEP farmer-members are also committed and engaged members of their communities. The results of a recent UEP member survey illustrates the strong support egg farmers provide to their local first responders.
The findings show that 96 percent of the respondents, responsible for 95 percent of the hens represented in the survey, are already in contact with their local emergency personnel on a yearly basis or more frequently. About 75 percent of these farmers also provide direct financial support to their local first responders, and over 50 percent have family members or staff that volunteer with the first responders as firefighters or emergency medical service technicians.
UEP egg farmers proudly represent about 90% of the egg production in the United States. Farmers, their families, and employees live on or near the farms. We are leaders, individuals, neighbors, and friends and care about our communities!