April 23, 2014

Protecting Antibiotics:
How Health Care Can Prevent Antibiotic Overuse in Animal Agriculture

A 3-part webinar series from Health Care Without Harm
April 22, May 27, June 24; 11am-12:30pmPT
Learn more here.

Antibiotic resistance is increasing across the country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently stated that antibiotic resistance is “one of our most serious health threats.” Yet, antibiotics continue to be used prolifically in food animal agriculture. Thirty million pounds of antibiotics sold annually in the U.S. are used for poultry and livestock production, routinely for non-therapeutic purposes, and they are available over-the-counter with no veterinary supervision. There is strong consensus among independent health experts that such antibiotic use in agriculture contributes to growing antibiotic resistance, and poses a serious threat to human health.

Health professionals have a powerful voice to provide in urging more prudent antibiotic use in agriculture. Join us for our 3-part webinar series as we discuss the role that doctors, dietitians, nurses, hospital food service staff, and other public health advocates can play in protecting our antibiotics:

Part 1: Foundations: Emerging Science, Farm Practices, and Federal Policy
NOTE: This webinar has already taken place. An archive is available here. See below for a description of this webinar.

Part 2: Clinical Advocacy around Antibiotics: From Resolutions to Policy Engagement
May 27, 11am-12:30pmPT
Registration link

The second webinar in our series will present tangible suggestions on how health professionals, particularly clinicians, can become involved in being stewards of antibiotics in food production. Amy Collins, MD, with MetroWest Medical Center and Health Care Without Harm will speak about the pressing need for medical professionals to become a part of sustainable food advocacy in their practice and communities, and with their patients. Having helped spearhead an antibiotic-free meat purchasing resolution at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) Medical Center, Thomas Newman, MD, a Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and Pediatrics at UCSF and a National Board member of Physicians for Social Responsibility, will explain how such a process can be repeated at other medical institutions. Steve Heilig, MPH, the Director of Public Health for the San Francisco Medical Society, which provided support to a California Medical Association resolution on curbing the use of non-therapeutic antibiotics in animal agriculture, will provide details on how medical societies elsewhere can adopt similar resolutions.

Objectives for this webinar include learning: 1) Why the use of antibiotics in animal agriculture is a public health crisis, 2) Why it is important for medical professionals to become familiar with and active on sustainable food issues, and 3) Opportunities for clinicians and health professionals to become involved in antibiotics stewardship and public policy at multiple levels.

Part 3: Purchasing: Success Stories and Strategies for Hospital Food Service
June 24, 11am-12:30pmPT
Registration link

The third and last webinar in this series will focus on hospital meat purchasing, and how over 160 hospitals in Health Care Without Harm’s network across the nation are buying less meat and/or more sustainable meat. Dan Henroid, MS, RD, from the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) Medical Center’s Nutrition and Food Services will describe UCSF Medical Center’s efforts at finding and procuring meat that has not been produced with non-therapeutic antibiotics. Allison Righter, MSPH, RD, and program officer at the Center for Livable Future at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health will talk about the health benefits of sustainable meat and how it is possible to meet nutrition requirements with reduced meat options. Other speakers (to be confirmed) will describe strategies for hospitals to purchase sustainable meat while meeting nutritional requirements.

Objectives for this webinar include learning: 1) How hospital food service can source sustainable meat on contract, 2) Where to begin finding sources of sustainable meat while also saving money, and 3) How to easily adapt menus when and if necessary.

Part 1: Foundations: Emerging Science, Farm Practices, and Federal Policy (this webinar took place on April 22nd and is available by archive here)

With our first webinar, participants learned the foundational issues around antibiotics in animal agriculture – the latest policy and science, as well as how and why antibiotics may or may not need to be used in poultry and livestock production. Lance Price, PhD, Professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at George Washington University is a researcher of antimicrobial resistance and presented cutting-edge science that demonstrates the link between antibiotic use in animal agriculture and antibiotic resistant infections in humans. As a trained veterinarian, Gail Hansen, DVM, MPH, Senior Officer at the Pew Campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming explained the legislative and regulatory policy landscape to date on these issues – including the Food and Drug Administration’s new guidelines to industry on removing growth promotion as an approved use of antibiotics. Having worked on his family farm, Steven Roach, MA, Food Safety Program Director of Food Animal Concerns Trust described farming practices in the U.S., and when and why antibiotics may or may not be needed.

Objectives for this webinar included learning: 1) The most up-to-date science on antibiotic resistant infections and their connection to food animal agriculture, 2) Why exactly antibiotics have been used for animal growth promotion and how this is linked to a public health crisis, and 2) How, as health professionals, to persuade elected officials and get involved in policy to change the food system so that it is more healthy and sustainable.