April 27, 2018

UCSF Ending Purchase of Meat Raised with Antibiotics

The University of California at San Francisco Medical Center (UCSF) announced on May 14, 2013 that they are not going to purchase meat raised with non-therapeutic antibiotics. That organization has a food budget of almost $7 million. The Academic Senate at UCSF is urging the remaining University of California Campuses to follow them and only purchase meat raised without antibiotics.

The task force released a statement that read, “there is strong consenses among independent experts that overuse of antibiotics in animal agriculture poses a threat to human health by contributing to increasing rates of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.” Dr. Thomas Newman, the Chair of the Academic Senate Sustainability Task Force, said, “it’s time for hospitals, universities, and other consumers to stop buying meat raised with non-therapeutic antibiotics.”

Experts from WHO, the Environmental Working Group, Consumers Union, the Union of Concerned Scientists, the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System, and others have stated that dosing farm animals with non-therapeutic levels of antibiotics for growth purposes has contributed to the increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Politicians in Congress have been introducing acts, including the Antimicrobial Data Collection Act and Prevention of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act to stop this use of antibiotics for years. In addition, the AMA and the American Academy of Pediatrics advocate ending this practice.

Despite pressure from many groups and organizations, last year the FDA only released a guidance document, with voluntary measures to restrict the use of antibiotics in animals raised for food. Measures like these do not have the force of law, and critics say they will not have a significant affect on the issue.

UCSF has signed the Healthy Food in Health Care Pledge, which helps hospitals and other facilities find local and sustainable foods that are raised with in an ecologically sustainable manner. The hospital is going to source beef that is grass fed and ┬áraised without non-therapeutic antibiotics. And they state that while this is an important step, “federal policy is needed to phase out the routine, non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in food animals.”

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