Serving antibiotic-free meat proves difficult for some hospitals

With antibiotic resistance in the spotlight, scientists have urged hospitals to drop meat from their menus that comes from animals given antibiotics. Hospitals across the nation have responded, but it hasn't always been smooth sailing.

For instance, Hackensack (N.J.) University Medical Center is making antibiotic-free meat a priority, but has run into resistance, especially from its distributer, which told the hospital it didn't have the necessary supply, according to an NPR report.

After working with the distributer and a group purchasing organization, HackensackUMC was able to phase out meat treated with antibiotics. However, the hospital pays 30 percent more for the antibiotic-free chicken, and is now working on getting more antibiotic-free beef and pork.

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Across the country at Overlake Medical Center in Bellevue, Wash., 79 percent of meat purchases are now antibiotic-free. This hospital ran into budget issues in making the switch, according to NPR.

Overcoming budget and supply issues is one thing, but other hospitals may encounter even greater challenges due to contracts with food service management companies, according to NPR. The companies have a limited supply of antibiotic-free meat, and hospitals "don't have flexibility in changing vendors or supply," Hillary Bisnett with Practice Greenhealth and Health Care Without Harm, told NPR.

However, the push is worth it for some hospital officials. "It took a lot of work to make this happen and a lot of pushing, but hospitals should be inclined to push the industry to make a change," Kyle Tafuri, HackensackUMC's senior sustainability adviser, told NPR.

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