Jun 3, 2015

More than 150 companies join White House in agreeing to phase out antibiotics in animals

The Rural BlogMore than 150 food companies, retailers and human and animal health stakeholders are joining the White House in an effort to combat antibiotic resistance as part of the "White House Forum on Antibiotic Stewardship," the White House said in a statement. The event will "bring together key human and animal health constituencies involved in antibiotic stewardship—the development, promotion and implementation of activities to ensure the responsible use of antibiotics."

President Barack Obama will sign a memorandum today directing "Federal departments and agencies to create a preference for meat and poultry produced according to responsible antibiotic-use in the meat supply chain by supporting the emerging market for meat produced according to responsible antibiotic-use policies." 

The memorandum "directs a three-tiered, phased approach using Federal purchasing authorities to offer options for meats from animals raised according to responsible antibiotic-use policies within Federal agencies' facilities." 

The memorandum includes three phases:
  • Initiating a process within 120 days of issuance of the proposed memorandum to make available meats and poultry from animals raised according to responsible antibiotic-use policies in certain Federal cafeterias. The General Services Administration, which operates a significant number of Federal cafeterias, will lead this approach, although other departments and agencies may join.
  • Broadening the availability of meats and poultry produced according to responsible antibiotic-use policies for sale in all Federal cafeterias serving civilian Federal employees by 2018 for poultry and 2020 for other meats, not solely those operated by GSA.
  • Developing an acquisition strategy for applying a preference by 2020 in Federal acquisitions for meats and poultry produced according to responsible antibiotic-use policies sold or served in all Federal facilities. 
At the same time, Foster Farms "said it plans to largely eliminate from its poultry supplies all antibiotics used to treat human illnesses, adding to chicken companies' responses to growing health concerns over antibiotic-resistant bacteria," Jacob Bunge reports for The Wall Street Journal

"Foster Farms is at least the fourth top U.S. poultry company to unveil plans over the past year to reduce or eliminate the use of antibiotics in their chicken supplies, bowing to growing pressure from consumer groups and public-health officials who have argued that the widespread use of antibiotics in commercial livestock and poultry operations has contributed to a rise in bacteria that have become resistant to such drugs," Bunge writes. "Foster Farms is tied for 10th among U.S. chicken producers by pounds produced, according to meat industry publication Watt Poultry USA."

The top two chicken producers, Tyson Farms and Pilgrim's Pride, have previously released plans to phase out antibiotics. Other major companies that said they would make changes are: PerdueMcDonald'sChick-fil-APanera BreadChipotleWhole Foods and Applegate