FMI Decries ‘Expensive’ San Fran Meat Ordinance


Following the passage of San Francisco Ordinance No. 170763, which, starting in April, will require food retail establishments to keep records regarding the use of antimicrobials in animals produced for food, the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) expressed its disapproval of the move, which, according to Chief Public Policy Officer and SVP of Public Affairs Jennifer Hatcher, will entail “expensive, duplicative reporting and recordkeeping requirements for certain food retail establishments in the city.”

The ordinance, which was unanimously approved by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and widely covered in the press, including Progressive Grocer, is expected to be signed by the mayor within a few days, and will then undergo the rulemaking process.

As for FMI’s use of the term “antimicrobials” rather than “antibiotics,” the distinction is that while both inhibit the growth of or kill microorganisms, antibiotics are produced naturally from molds or bacteria, but antimicrobials can also be chemically synthesized. That is to say, all antibiotics are antimicrobials, but not all antimicrobials are antibiotics.

Continued Hatcher: “We are disappointed that in the passage of this ordinance, the board did not take into consideration the concerns of the city’s grocers, their customers or the commonsense modifications proposed by FMI to exempt products marked as USDA certified organic, ‘Raised without Antibiotics’ or an approved variation of this nomenclature.”

FMI pointed out that the measure in its current form places an undue burden on retailers, however.

“Under the ordinance, certain food retail establishments, including both traditional grocers and specialty food retail establishments with 25 or more stores nationwide, will be forced to produce and maintain redundant paperwork about antimicrobial usage or non-usage in meat,” explained Hatcher. “As FMI stated in its letter submitted to the board and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, this information is already prominently provided on the package, as it is federally regulated and must appear on the fresh meat label for those consumers who seek products from animals raised without antibiotics. This includes meat labeled ‘organic.’”

Although she admitted that the organization was “displeased” with the board’s failure to consider its changes to the ordinance requirements that would have exempted previously labeled products, Hatcher vowed that FMI would “continue to be highly engaged through the rulemaking process.”

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