US Groups Push for Zero-Antibiotics Chicken in More Schools

US - Schools should be able to procure chicken raised without the routine use of medically important antibiotics from the Department of Agriculture through its USDA Foods program, according to a petition filed today by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Urban School Food Alliance, and School Food Focus.
calendar icon 25 October 2016
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USDA Foods buys food in bulk and offers it to schools nationwide, generally at a lower price than the commercial market. However, the current programme doesn’t offer no antibiotics administered chicken or chicken raised without routine use of medically important antibiotics.

The petition follows a strong focus on the issue in recent months as more companies have begun to produce more chicken raised without any antibiotics, in response to consumer concerns over the development of antibiotic-resistant diseases.

The Veterinary Feed Directive from the US' Food and Drug Administration means it will soon be illegal to use medically-important antibiotics for production purposes, and any use of these drugs for animal treatment will have to be signed off by a veterinarian.

A coalition of schools and public health, parent, environmental and other groups – including School District of Philadelphia, Minneapolis School District, and California PTA – rallied in support of the petition with a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

“This will allow school cafeterias across the country to help fight our growing antibiotic crisis,” said Margaret Brown, staff attorney for NRDC. “By selling meat raised without antibiotics misuse through its bulk purchasing programme, the USDA can allow more schools to serve it to their students. This will not only improve more kids’ lunches, but help keep life-saving drugs working when children need them.”

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