Hackensack University Medical Center (HackensackUMC), a member of Hackensack Meridian Health, joined health systems across the country this week in calling on food producers and manufacturers to provide sustainable meat and poultry for the health care industry. HackensackUMC is leading the way among health care institutions in driving antibiotics out of meat procurement, with 85 percent of its meat and poultry raised without routine antibiotics.
“Health care is an important sector in our economy, and by encouraging food distributors and wholesalers to provide antibiotic-free meat, HackensackUMC can help drive antibiotics out of meat procurement,” said Robert C. Garrett, FACHE, co-CEO, Hackensack Meridian Health. “HackensackUMC’s mission is to provide excellent, quality care for our patients, and providing high quality, sustainable food to our team members, patients and community is part of that effort.”
Growing concerns about infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria and the overuse of antibiotics on farm animals led HackensackUMC to explore its options in procuring antibiotic-free meat. Every year, antibiotic resistant infections kill about 23,000 Americans and an alarming 80 percent of antibiotics sold are used to treat farm animals.
“Families are appropriately concerned about antibiotic resistance, and HackensackUMC has worked very hard over the last year to meet demands to provide antibiotic-free meat,” said Jeffrey Boscamp, M.D., pediatric infectious disease specialist, vice president and chief academic officer. “It is imperative that the food industry provide antibiotic-free meat and poultry so that hospitals like HackensackUMC can provide environmentally friendly and socially responsible food choices for its team members and patients.”
Over the last year, HackensackUMC leadership, in collaboration with The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center®, has worked with distributors and purchasing organizations to source meat alternatives that are antibiotic-free. While the retail and fast food industries have provider options for sustainable meat, the health care industry continues to have limited options in procuring antibiotic-free meat. To date, 85 percent of HackensackUMC’s meat is antibiotic-free with the goal of procuring 100 percent by the end of the year.
“It has never been more important to consider where our food comes from, how meat is raised, and the health consequences of putting too many antibiotics in our bodies – especially our children’s bodies,” said Deirdre Imus, president and founder of the Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center® at HackensackUMC.
“Sourcing sustainable meat was not an easy task for HackensackUMC,” said Kyle Tafuri, senior sustainability advisor at The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center® at the medical center. “A committed leadership team worked with food vendors to find a way to provide antibiotic free meat. It will take the entire health care industry coming together to make a difference and encourage more food vendors to provide antibiotic-free meat to hospitals.”
HackensackUMC is a member of organizations like Health Care Without Harm and Practice Greenhealth that are working to help hospitals and networks across the country to purchase more sustainable products.
To view a copy of Health Care Without Harm’s announcement, “Health Care Sector Demands Sustainable Meat and Poultry”, click here.