Antibiotic-Free Chicken to Be Served in Largest U.S. Schools

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The Urban School Food Alliance, which serves school districts in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami-Dade, Dallas and Orlando, has announced a new antibiotic-free chicken policy for its chicken suppliers.

The Urban School Food Alliance includes the nation’s largest school districts, serving nearly 2.9 million students on a daily basis.

According to Food Safety News, under the new standard, all of the chicken suppliers providing Alliance schools with chicken must meet the new USDA Process Verified Program requirements, which include:

  • No animal byproducts in the feed.
  • Raised on an all-vegetarian diet.
  • Humanely raised as outlined in the National Chicken Council Animal Welfare Guidelines.
  • No antibiotics ever.

“The standards we’re asking from the manufacturers go above and beyond the quality of the chicken we normally purchase at local supermarkets,” USFA Chairman Eric Goldstein and chief executive officer of School Support Services for the New York City Department of Education said in a statement. “This move by the Alliance shows that school food directors across the country truly care about the health and wellness of students.”

Antibiotic-free chicken will improve the health of the millions of children served by the school districts in the Alliance, and it will also help in the fight against antibiotic resistance.

The World Health Organization has warned that we’re entering a “post-antibiotic era” unless we are able to curb antibiotic use in livestock. Currently, approximately 80 percent of antibiotic stocks in the U.S. are fed to livestock.

Mark Izeman, senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), which helped the Alliance develop the antibiotic-free standard, told Food Safety News that the change “will not only have a dramatic impact on the quality of school meals, but will also help push the entire food industry to move away from animals raised with improper antibiotic use.”

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Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger is a Los Angeles-based journalist and editor focused on the global food system and how it intersects with our cultural traditions, diet preferences, health, and politics. She is the senior editor for sister websites OrganicAuthority.com and EcoSalon.com, and works as a research associate and editor with the Cornucopia Institute, the organic industry watchdog group. Jill has been featured in The Huffington Post, MTV, Reality Sandwich, and Eat Drink Better. www.jillettinger.com.