Big U.S. school districts plan switch to antibiotic-free chicken

Six of the largest U.S. school districts are switching to antibiotic-free chicken, officials said on Tuesday, pressuring the world’s top meat companies to adjust production practices in the latest push against drugs used on farms.

The move by districts in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Miami-Dade County and Orlando County is intended to protect children’s health amid concerns about the rise of so-called “superbugs,” bacteria that gain resistance to conventional medicines, school officials said.

However, the change may raise costs for schools because bird mortality rates are typically higher in flocks raised without antibiotics. The six districts, which served at least 2.6 million meals last year, hope to limit costs by combining their purchasing power, officials said.

Under the new standards, all chicken products served in the districts must come from birds that were never fed antibiotics, according to the Urban School Food Alliance, which represents the districts. <more>

Dec. 9, 2014 Reuters