San Francisco, CA (PRWEB) May 10, 2013
The University of California, San Francisco’s (UCSF) Academic Senate Coordinating Committee, the School of Pharmacy Faculty Council, and the School of Medicine Faculty Council unanimously approved a resolution in April to phase out the procurement of meat and poultry raised with non-therapeutic antibiotics at UCSF. The resolution also encourages all University of California campuses to do the same.
“There is overwhelming scientific consensus that overuse of antibiotics in livestock is a health hazard to people. It’s time for hospitals, universities, and other consumers to stop buying meat raised with non-therapeutic antibiotics,” said Dr. Thomas Newman, the Chair of the Sustainability Task Force at UCSF that originally spearheaded the resolution, and a member of the faculty at the School of Medicine at UCSF. Dr. Newman also sits on the Board of the San Francisco Bay Area Physicians for Social Responsibility (SF-PSR) which assisted in drafting the resolution. SF-PSR coordinates Health Care Without Harm’s Healthy Food in Health Care program in California.
Eighty percent of the antibiotics sold in the United States are used in animal agriculture, primarily for non-therapeutic purposes. These antibiotics are being used for growth promotion and to compensate for unsanitary living conditions. There is strong consensus among independent experts that overuse of these medically important drugs in animal agriculture contributes to growing antibiotic resistance. The European Union banned the use of non-therapeutic antibiotics in livestock production in 2006. More than 300 organizations, including the American Medical Association, the American Public Health Association, and Health Care Without Harm, have advocated ending the practice here in the U.S.
“We believe that healthcare is best positioned to lead our society away from its addiction to antibiotics in animal agriculture,” said Gary Cohen, President of Health Care Without Harm. "Hospitals have both the mission-critical rationale and the economic clout to transform the animal supply chain to become more environmentally sustainable and healthier for everyone." Health Care Without Harm currently works with over 93 hospitals across the country that are reducing the amount of meat they serve in their facilities, and/or are procuring more sustainable meat.
With the finalization of UCSF’s resolution, the University’s Nutrition and Food Services, which prepares and serves over 650,000 meals per year to patients, staff and the community, is searching for more affordable, sustainably-grown meat products. According to Jack Henderson, Associate Director of Nutrition and Food Services at UCSF, who provided input on the UCSF resolution. “At UCSF Medical Center, we are taking a two-pronged approach. First, we have reduced the amount of red meat being served overall; and secondly, we are now actively pursuing a source of beef that is grass-fed, raised without non-therapeutic antibiotics and still fits within our budget. It is a complex manoeuver involving the producer and our distributor but we believe it is a positive move. It is the right thing to do for our patients, our staff and our visitors.”
However, many challenges, including cost and distribution, have to be addressed before UCSF can ensure that 100 percent of its meat is raised without non-therapeutic antibiotics. UCSF’s Nutrition and Food Services and Health Care Without Harm are planning a Fall event with meat producers, distributors, and hospitals to discuss these and related issues.
For more information about how health care facilities and professionals are addressing the use of antibiotics in animal agriculture, please join us for two webinars on May 16 and 22, sponsored by Health Care Without Harm and the Pew Campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming. The webinar on May 16 will feature a presentation by Dr. Thomas Newman and highlight how hundreds of clinicians across the country are pressuring the Food and Drug Administration for better oversight on antibiotics use. The webinar on May 22 will highlight what hospitals are already doing to procure more sustainable meat. Registration is available online.
Health Care Without Harm is an international coalition of more than 520 organizations in 53 countries, working to transform the health care industry worldwide, without compromising patient safety or care, so that it is ecologically sustainable and no longer a source of harm to public health and the environment. For more information on HCWH, see http://www.noharm.org. HCWH’s Healthy Food in Health Care (HFHC) Program works with hospitals across the country to help improve the sustainability of their food services. To learn more about HCWH’s Healthy Food in Health Care Program visit http://www.healthyfoodinhealthcare.org.