NCC Statement on Urban School Food Alliance Antibiotic Announcement

December 9, 2014

Attributable to Tom Super, National Chicken Council vice president of communications

“We share in the goal of providing our school children with food that is healthy, safe and affordable.

“Chicken is the most nutritious, versatile and affordable protein available, especially for growing, school-aged children.  In some instances, school breakfast and lunch might be the only opportunity for kids to eat high-quality protein during the day.

“We support consumer and student choice, but we strongly caution against food trends that are not fully supported by science, will introduce higher costs into the food system, and offer no benefit to public health.”

Responsible use of antibiotics in raising chickens

Just like people, animals get sick, and treating illness is a responsible part of animal care.  Even if you have the best animal health plan, some chickens may get sick and need to be treated with antibiotics. Veterinarians have a responsibility to treat those animals in a responsible and targeted manner, for a limited duration under FDA-approved guidelines.

Antibiotic resistance is a very serious and complex issue.  Several scientific, peer-reviewed risk assessments demonstrate that resistance that is emerging in animals and transferring to humans does not happen in measurable amounts, if at all.

For those antibiotics that are FDA-approved for use in raising chickens, the majority of them are not used in human medicine and therefore do not represent any threat of creating resistance in humans.

Still, antibiotics for growth promotion are being phased out through actions taken by the FDA and endorsed by animal agriculture, and the role of the veterinarian in prescribing them is being expanded.

Use of term “Antibiotic-Free” is misleading

All chicken meat is “antibiotic-free.”  If an antibiotic is used on the farm, federal rules require the antibiotics to have cleared the animals’ systems before they can be processed.  For approved antibiotics, FDA and the USDA have extensive monitoring and testing programs to make sure that food at the grocery store or in schools does not contain antibiotic residues.

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