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SF to Mandate Large Grocers Disclose Antibiotics Used in Meat

San Francisco is expected to soon require large grocery stores to report the use of antibiotics used in livestock and poultry that’s sold in their stores. 

The first-of-its-kind proposal would increase efforts to curtail the overuse of antibiotic drugs in raising livestock and poultry by going beyond federal and state requirements.

The use of antibiotics in livestock to speed up growth or compensate for squalid conditions is partly blamed for a spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control considers one of the top five health threats facing the country.

At least 2 million people contract antibiotic-resistant infections annually and at least 23,000 die as a result, according to the CDC.

Supervisor Jeff Sheehy introduced the legislation in June, as previously reported by the San Francisco Examiner, and on Wednesday the board’s Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee unanimously voted to send it to the full board for a vote Tuesday.

“It is my hope that we can stem the tide of antibiotic-resistant infections by providing consumers with information about the antibiotic use policies and practices behind meat products sold in San Francisco stores,” Sheehy said.

The proposal impacts large grocers in San Francisco — those with 25 or more outlets around the world — including Safeway, Walgreens, CVS, Grocery Outlet, Whole Foods and Bristol Farms. That covers about 122 stores in The City.

Grcoers will have to annually submit reports to the Department of the Environment with the use of antibiotics in the meats and poultry sold in their stores, including the average number of days of antibiotic use per animal, the percentage of animals treated with antibiotics, the number of animals raised and the total volume of antibiotics administered.

The information would then be used to inform the public of antibiotic use in the products. The effort is intended to use the power of the consumer to force marketplace change.

Education around the issue has led some well-known fast food chains like Burger King and Kentucky Fried Chicken to change their antibiotic use policies.

The City will also examine its own meat purchases. Meat is purchased by the Department of Public Health for hospitals, the Sheriff’s Department for jails and the San Francisco Unified School District.

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