San Francisco has become the first U.S. city to require grocers with 25 stores or more to report annually on the use of antibiotics in the raw meat and poultry that they sell in their stores, according to published reports.
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the ordinance, which is slated to take effect in April 2018. According to the law firm Shook Hardy & Bacon LLP, which has a San Francisco location, grocers’ annual reports to the state’s Department of the Environment must include the purposes for which the antibiotics were used, the number of animals raised, the total volume of antibiotics given and whether their use was “medically important.” Grocers that don’t comply ordinance may face fines or imprisonment.
“San Francisco can play a pivotal role in addressing the inappropriate use of antibiotics in meat production by increasing transparency of antibiotic use practices by collecting, analyzing and explaining the myriad policies on antibiotic use for raising livestock and poultry and the implications of different levels of antibiotic use for environmental health, antibiotic resistance and public health,” the ordinance (see attached file) said.
Public health and environmental groups have cautioned that high rates of antibiotic use in animals raised for food may lead to antibiotic-resistant “superbugs” that can be passed to humans, The Washington Post reported.
The ordinance itself cited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2013 finding that 2 million people become sick annually from antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and at least 23,000 of those who are infected die.
Food industry representatives, meanwhile, expressed concern regarding the burden that the ordinance would place on San Francisco retailers and consumers.
“The San Francisco ordinance . . . is a recipe for failure,” Barry Carpenter, CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based North American Meat Institute, told the Post. “The significant costs associated with the segregation and record-keeping for meat and poultry products to be sold in San Francisco will increase the cost of meat and poultry for consumers there and reduce options available.”