WASHINGTON - On the eve of a July 14 hearing conducted by the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health to examine the use of antibiotics in animal agriculture, the Pew Campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming, in collaboration with Health Care Without Harm, held an audio news conference on the need to end the overuse of these drugs in meat production.
During the news conference, Health Care Without Harm announced the numbers of hospitals and clinicians that support elimination of the routine use of antibiotics and that are changing their purchasing practices to include only meat raised without antibiotics.
Experts estimate that up to 70 percent of the antibiotics sold in the United States are given to healthy food animals on industrial farms to promote growth and compensate for the effects of overcrowding and unsanitary conditions. Four decades of scientific research has demonstrated that feeding antibiotics to food animals over a long period of time promotes the development of dangerous strains of drug-resistant bacteria that can infect humans who work with these animals or process or consume their meat. Despite supply chain obstacles, the healthcare community is using its purchasing power to shift toward meat and poultry produced without antibiotics and is advocating for restrictions on the non-therapeutic uses of antibiotics.
The Pew Campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming is a joint effort of the Pew Health Group and the Pew Environment Group working to phase-out the routine use of antibiotics in food animal production.
HCWH is an international coalition of more than 430 organizations in 52 countries, working to transform the health care industry worldwide so that it is ecologically sustainable. HCWH has an ambitious healthy food agenda, which includes buying fresh food locally and/or buying certified organic food; avoiding food raised with growth hormones and antibiotics; supporting local farmers and farming organizations; introducing farmers markets and on-site food box programs; reducing food waste; and establishing an overarching food policy at each health facility. More than 300 hospitals have signed the HCWH "Healthy Food in Healthcare Pledge." Signers pledge to work toward developing sustainable food systems in their facilities. Learn more about HCWH's work on food and other issues related to health care.