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

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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.


Image Credit: Mike Noble, Fletcher Allen Health Care

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