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Hospitals Use Purchase Power to Increase Antibiotic-Free Proteins in the Marketplace

Fletcher Allen staff member, Anne Rowell, sets out pizzas under a display of Wednesday’s special: a cheese steak sandwich, made with beef raised locally without the use of non-therapeutic antibiotics. The roll and cheese are also Vermont products and the side of pasta salad is home made. Annually, Fletcher Allen uses about 40,000 pounds of beef and chicken raised without these antibiotics.

From today’s Chicago Tribune:

“Diane Imrie, director of nutrition services at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Vermont, also started serving antibiotic-free beef at the hospital in recent years as part of her plan to switch to local, seasonal, sustainable food.

“When we started a sustainability council at the hospital a few years ago, antibiotic reduction was one of the first things on my list,” she said. “I think it has the most impact on farming, the environment and public health.”

Imrie estimated that her food costs rose about $67,000 last year when she switched to antibiotic-free chicken from conventional. “But that’s also about the same cost as treating a single MRSA infection,” she said, referring to drug-resistant staphylococcus bacteria.”

This story highlights how hospitals can leverage their consistent and ever growing purchase power to increase antibiotic-free animal protein production. The CDC estimates that 60,000 people die each year in the US from antibiotic-resistant infections. And while official records are not known, the Pew Charitable Trust estimates that 70% of all antibiotics used in the US are administered to healthy animals to boost growth rates in overcrowded living conditions.

The Tribune story is a must read and mentions the success of antibiotic-free producers like the Tallgrass Beef Company.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/v/8EMtFxIbgWo&hl=en_US&fs=1]

Image Credit: Mike Noble, Fletcher Allen Health Care

Written by Lane Jost

A lifelong conservationist, angler, gardener and writer, Lane is a Corporate Responsibility strategy consultant based in Chicago, where he currently works a CR consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

Prior to joining PwC, Lane was a global sustainability performance and stakeholder engagement specialist for Sodexo North America. He has experience in microfinance program evaluation at Grameen Foundation. A former President of the Net Impact Chapter at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), Lane has a master's in International Development Economics from the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies at UCSD (IR/PS) and a bachelor's in history and international studies from Kenyon College. Prior to working in the sustainable business sphere, Lane spent six years as a communications and marketing professional focusing on arts and culture in New York City, where his work included the creation of the jazz website gothamjazz.com and serving as the publicist for the New York Philharmonic.

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