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Hospitals Serve Over 126,000 Meals that Feature Meat and Poultry Raised Without Unnecessary Antibiotics

350+ Hospitals Celebrate Food Day With Their Commitment to Building Sustainable Food Systems

[Reston, VA] – On October 24, 352 hospitals around the country will serve 126,600 meals that feature meat or poultry raised without non-therapeutic antibiotics. Spearheaded by Health Care Without Harm, these hospitals are leading a nationwide movement within health care to eliminate the overuse of antibiotics in animal agriculture and build a healthy, sustainable food supply.

On Food Day alone, participating hospitals will collectively spend $146,345 on 16,600 pounds of chicken, 10,000 pounds of beef, and 5,000 pounds of pork and other meats that are raised without these unnecessary antibiotics. Many hospitals participating in Food Day regularly include meat raised without routine antibiotics in patient meals and cafeterias offerings, and if amplified over the course of a year, this could represent more than 46 million meals and $53 million spent on more sustainably raised meat and poultry.

The connection between the unnecessary use of antibiotics in animal agriculture and antibiotic resistance in humans is a major concern among health experts. Four times the amount of antibiotics are used for industrial animal agriculture (29 million pounds) compared to human medicine (seven million pounds). This overuse in animals contributes to antibiotic resistant “superbugs”. In the United States alone, these superbugs are responsible for 23,000 deaths each year, eight million hospital stays, and $55 billion in health costs and lost productivity.

A recent report from the Consumer Reports National Research Center found that 85 percent of doctors surveyed had diagnosed one or more of their patients with a multi-drug resistant bacterial infection within the past year and that 93 percent of doctors are concerned with the use of antibiotics in livestock production facilities for animals that are not sick.

“In order to solve the growing antibiotic resistance crisis in medicine we need to transform animal agriculture,” said Gary Cohen, president and co-founder of Health Care Without Harm. “Hospitals – like these participating in Food Day – can lead this transformation by using their purchasing power to serve healthier food to their patients and employees as well as drive healthy, sustainable practices in the communities they serve.”

Working closely with Health Care Without Harm’s national Healthy Food in Health Care program, 770 hospitals across the United States have committed to purchasing and serving healthier, more sustainably produced foods within their own facilities.

In addition, several Food Day participants are using this opportunity to spur new commitments within their own facilities and throughout the communities they serve. For example, the Massachusetts Medical Society adopted a policy to educate the public about antibiotic resistance and the use of non-therapeutic antibiotics in animal agriculture. In September 2014 the Massachusetts Hospital Association Board of Trustees agreed to develop an effort to promote the purchase of meats raised without routine antibiotics. 

"We're thrilled to have so many hospitals across the country participating in Food Day this year,” said Lilia Smelkova, Food Day Campaign Manager. “Conditions on large factory farms are causing significant human and environmental health problems, and this type of market-based advocacy sends a direct message to meat and poultry producers that these practices need to change."

“Hospitals need to drive market and policy changes that protect antibiotics and prevent their overuse in animal agriculture,” said Cohen. “If every hospital in the country committed to serving meat raised without antibiotics year-round, we’re looking at over 750 million meals served and $868 million spent on healthy, sustainably raised meat – just in the health care sector alone. Imagine what that could do to protect antibiotics and the future of our health care system.”

For more information, visit www.healthyfoodinhealthcare.org.

 

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About Health Care Without Harm

Heath Care Without Harm (https://noharm.org/) works to transform the health sector worldwide, without compromising patient safety or care, so that it becomes ecologically sustainable and a leading advocate for environmental health and justice.

About Food Day

Food Day (http://www.foodday.org/) inspires Americans to change their diets and our food policies. Every October 24, thousands of events all around the country bring Americans together to celebrate and enjoy real food and to push for improved food policies.

About the Calculations

Participating hospitals provided the estimated number of pounds of meat and poultry raised without non-therapeutic antibiotics to be served in cafeterias and/or patient meals on Food Day (October 24), as well as their total cost. The total number of meals was estimated using the standard meat protein serving size reported in hospitals of 4oz (raw) / 3oz (cooked). This serving is also in line with USDA My Plate Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 recommendations to consume less than an average of 5.5oz of meat equivalent daily for individuals over 9 years of age.  

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