Scientists urge hospitals to purchase antibiotic-free meat only

The UCSF Medical Center in San Francisco has been phasing out meat from animals that were given antibiotics for growth promotion for the last two years, and scientists from UCSF are urging other hospitals to follow suit.


Today, about one-third of meat served to patients at UCSF Medical Center comes from animals that were only given antibiotics if they were sick.

When animals are given antibiotics, it can encourage the development of resistance to said antibiotics. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration allows the routine use of antibiotics in animal feed, however, according to UCSF scientists.

"Because the actions of federal legislators and regulators remain insufficient, it is time for the healthcare sector to expand its stewardship over these lifesaving drugs beyond clinical practice," said Michael Martin, MD, an assistant clinical professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at UCSF and the lead author of an opinion piece in the American Journal of Public Health.

At UCSF Medical Center, switching to antibiotic-free meat has not affected the price of chicken, but it has affected the price of beef. However, people are still purchasing the food from the cafeteria, so the price increase has not affected demand.

Authors of the opinion piece in the American Journal of Public Health note that if enough hospitals start buying antibiotic-free meat, it could create more of a market and therefore drop prices.

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