HCWH Applauds Premier Healthcare Alliance for Contract that Provides Healthier, More Sustainable Chicken To Health Care Members
Agreement Expands Opportunity to Buy Chicken Produced without Antibiotics or Arsenic
RESTON, Va., Sept. 6, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ – Beginning on October 1, more hospitals will have access to healthier, more sustainably produced chicken, thanks to an agreement between Premier healthcare alliance and Murray’s Chicken of South Fallsburg, N.Y. Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) applauds this first-of-its-kind step toward sustainable food service in Premier member hospitals and healthcare sites across the country by expanding the availability of chicken produced without antibiotics and arsenic.
Murray’s chicken is raised on Pennsylvania farms and processed in New York state. In addition to producing its chicken without the use of antibiotics and arsenic, Murray’s production methods have also been certified to meet the Humane Farm Animal Care Certified Humane Raised & Handled standards. Premier’s contract with Murray’s Chicken will make sustainably produced chicken more accessible and affordable not only to hospitals, but to other institutional Premier alliance members as well. Members will be able to access these products through U.S. Foodservice, Premier’s primary distributor.
This contract is a significant decision for hospitals around the country striving to create sustainable food service options. “The routine use of antibiotics and arsenic compounds in chicken production is unnecessary and an on-going health concern,” said Gary Cohen, HCWH’s executive director. “We are very pleased that Premier is leading the sustainability effort by providing their members with this healthier, more sustainable chicken option, and we hope that other purchasing organizations will follow their lead.”
“Our facilities buy and serve a great deal of chicken,” said Nancy Mulvihill, VP of corporate communications for Covenant Health Systems and head of Covenant’s Environmental Committee. Covenant Health Systems is based in New England and belongs to Yankee Alliance, a Premier member. “And as much as possible we’d like to support producers whose practices do not further jeopardize the continued effectiveness of antibiotics.”
Pat Burdullis, supply chain administrator for Catholic Healthcare West, a 41-hospital health system that serves Arizona, California and Nevada, concurs. “As a health care provider we are committed to preventing illness and creating a healthier food system and we are pleased that Premier is helping us to make that possible.” As a former member of Premier’s food service committee, Pat has been an active proponent for more sustainable chicken options.
Through its Healthy Food in Health Care Program, HCWH and its partner organizations have been working to achieve this result for more than six years. “Many hospitals have wanted to buy these products, but the increased cost and lack of availability through their mainline distributors have been significant barriers,” said Marie Kulick, sustainable procurement advisor for HCWH. “We really hope that these hospitals will now take full advantage of this healthier option as it is more readily available and a better price.”
Anders Grant, clinical dietitian at Carroll Hospital Center in Westminster, MD, added, “Our hospital has been purchasing some sustainable poultry and we will be able to purchase more with the additional availability via Murray’s Chicken. We also hope this new development will help increase the purchase of healthier, more sustainable poultry across the health care sector.”
Covenant Health Systems, Catholic Healthcare West and Carroll Hospital Center are three of the more than 350 hospitals, health systems and long-term care facilities that have signed the HCWH Healthy Food in Health Care Pledge, indicating their commitment to the goal of providing local, nutritious and sustainably-produced food.
Murray’s Chicken is also very excited about the Premier contract. “As a smaller, family owned business it is rare for us to be given the same opportunity to be awarded a contract as the commodity chicken companies,” said Steve Gold, VP of marketing and sales for Murray’s Chicken. “We are excited that more of our products will be served in hospitals.”
According to the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 80 percent of the antibiotics sold in the US in 2009 were used in animal agriculture. The majority of these antibiotics are not being used to treat animals that have been diagnosed with an illness but rather to promote faster growth and for routine disease prevention as compensation for the heightened risk of infection associated with raising animals under confined, often unhygienic conditions. This routine and unnecessary use of antibiotics in animal agriculture contributes significantly to the human epidemic of infections caused by bacteria that have become resistant to antibiotic treatment.
Until recently, it was estimated that 70 percent of the chickens raised for meat in the U.S. were fed arsenic-based additives for growth promotion, feed efficiency and meat pigmentation. Arsenic use in chicken can result in arsenic residues in meat, and contamination of manure, agricultural lands and water supplies. Arsenic is a known carcinogen and chronic exposure to arsenic is also linked to birth defects, diabetes, heart disease, declines in intellectual function, and neurological problems in children.
Heath Care without Harm (HCWH), an international coalition of more than 473 organizations in 52 countries, is working to transform the health care sector, without compromising patient safety or care, so that it is ecologically sustainable and no longer a source of harm to public health and the environment. To learn more about HCWH, visit www.noharm.org.
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; encouraging group purchasing organizations (GPOs) to support healthy food in healthcare; 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. To learn more about HCWH’s work on food and other issues related to health care www.healthyfoodinhealthcare.org.
HCWH Statement on Antibiotics in Food www.noharm.org/lib/downloads/food/HCWH_Policy_Antibiotics_Food.pdf
Feeding Arsenic to Poultry: Is this Good Medicine?
Buying Better Chicken: A Resource to buying chicken Raised without Antibiotics and Arsenic for Schools Hospitals and Other Purchasers, www.iatp.org/files/Buying%20Better%20Chicken042011.pdf
SOURCE Health Care Without Harm