UCLA hospitals switch to grass-fed, antibiotic-free beef and chicken

Saturday, May 03, 2014 by: Julie Wilson
Tags: organic food, healthcare, antibiotic free chicken

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(NaturalNews) Employees in the healthcare industry are now reaping the benefits of healthy, organic food while on the clock, according to UCLA Newsroom.

The Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica, have added much healthier choices to their cafeteria menus. Employees can now get antibiotic-free, grass-fed beef, herb roasted potatoes and antibiotic-free chicken breast.

UCLA's Health System is particularly progressive when it comes to offering healthy choices. Last year they won an award from Practice Greenhealth and Health Care Without Ham for offering more veggies on the menu, reducing food waste and participating in energy and water conservation initiatives.

Time for change

Health officials say part of the reason for the hospital's menu change is growing concern over antibiotic resistant bacteria. Coincidentally, Reuters just ran a report documenting statements made by the U.N.'s World Health Organization (WHO) warning the public that dangerous superbugs are not just a scary possibility, but a frightening reality.

WHO's report focused on the rise of human infections stemming from superbugs, identifying the MRSA virus, and a resistant form of the sexually transmitted disease, gonorrhea, as being major cause for concern.

Reports show MRSA alone kills around 20,000 people annually in the U.S., which is far more than HIV or AIDS.

Other hospitals are pushing healthier choices by banning fried foods, offering "meatless Monday's," and providing biodegradable utensils and plates.

Overuse of antibiotics in meat concerns health experts

Dr. Daniel Uslan, an assistant clinical professor of medicine in the division of infectious diseases at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, believes that pumping food-producing animals like cows and chickens full of antibiotics creates dangerous antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Uslan, who is also director of the antimicrobial stewardship program at the UCLA Health System, concurs with many other experts when he says he believes this helps create more antibiotic resistant infections in humans.

"With the effectiveness of key antibiotics dwindling, bacterial resistance presents a major public health challenge," said Uslan. "It's critical that we reduce unnecessary antibiotic use in agriculture and support appropriate antibiotic use by clinicians and patients."

The rise in antibiotic resistant bacteria is particularly problematic because bacterial strains are evolving faster than pharmaceutical companies can develop drugs capable of treating the resistant bacteria.

According to UCLA Newsweek's report, statistics provided by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reveal 80 percent of all antibiotics sold in the U.S. are used for food-producing animals.This is a shocking number. Nearly all of the antibiotics being sold in the nation are being pumped into our food.

Food manufacturers rely heavily on using large amounts of antibiotics to increase production, even though it substantially lowers the quality of food produced and poses a great health risk for consumers.

It's not just unhealthy for humans, but can be seen as a form of animal cruelty. When farmers use unnatural tactics like antibiotics, beginning in the early stages of life in order to promote faster development, it severely compromises animal byproducts and leads to a miserable life for the animal. Unless you're buying from an organic, sustainable farm, cows and chickens are rarely able to graze freely, preventing them from living a happy life until hitting the slaughterhouse.

Even though the damage has already been done, it's not too late to reverse it. Health care communities are paving the way for society by introducing healthier choices, including antibiotic free meat. Education is key to changing attitudes for both manufacturers and consumers.

"We serve more than 3.4 million meals annually between our two hospitals and are always looking for ways to enhance and improve our services," said Patricia Oliver, UCLA Health System's director of nutrition services.

Currently 30 local hospitals and 128 state-wide are participating in the new initiative.

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