UCLA hospitals begin using antibiotic-free meat

Chicken breasts and ground beef are on the menu; more beef and chicken may follow.

LOS ANGELES—UCLA Health System has joined the University of California San Francisco Medical Center in offering antibiotic-free proteins on its patient and retail menus. Patti Oliver, director of nutrition services, says last week the health system began using antibiotic-free chicken breasts, ground beef patties and ground beef. Last fall, the UCSF Medical Center began serving hormone-free, antibiotic-free chicken breasts.

“We are menuing about 700 pounds of chicken breasts, 100 pounds of beef patties and about 60 pounds of ground beef per week,” Oliver says. “We are in the process of looking at chicken quarters, stewing beef and tri-tips as well.”

The move by UCLA follows mandates by the president of the University of California system, who at the start of the decade set a goal of every institution within the system having 20% of its food items be considered sustainable by the year 2020. Oliver says her facility already has surpassed that percentage, having 24% of her menu using sustainable items. “But we’re still wanting to increase that number,” she adds.

The biggest challenge in making the switch has been price. Oliver says her department, along with other hospitals in the areas, has been working with vendors during the past year to leverage their purchasing power in an attempt to bring prices down. Oliver is the Los Angeles area organizer of the Healthy Food in Health Care program (a health and sustainable food program from Health Care Without Harm), which involves some 35 hospitals.

They have succeeded to the point that, Oliver notes, cafeteria prices for chicken dishes have not increased.

“We have not raised our prices. We have been able to negotiate a price point that means our annual increase (in chicken prices) will be less than $20,000,” she explains. “We are looking at finding other savings to compensate for that. I do feel that if, eventually, we need to increase prices a bit that it will be well-accepted, because we have received so many positive comments about the change.”

One reason driving hospitals to consider the use of antibiotic-free proteins is the problem of antibiotic resistance. In a press release from UCLA, Dr. Daniel Uslan, director of the health system’s antimicrobial stewardship program, noted that the overuse of antibiotics in food animals has had the unintended side effect of causing more antibiotic-resistant infections in humans.

"With the effectiveness of key antibiotics dwindling, bacterial resistance presents a major public health challenge," Uslan was quoted in the release. "It's critical that we reduce unnecessary antibiotic use in agriculture and support appropriate antibiotic use by clinicians and patients."

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
chefs

We started inviting chefs and FSDs from other districts to come prepare lunch. Through featuring different chefs and chef-inspired meals, I’ve found the students have been looking forward to coming into the cafeteria. They are willing to try new things with crazy names, and to ask for their favorite outside items turned healthy.

Ideas and Innovation
tapas

I’ve created a high school “focus group” to see what future college students will want in terms of foodservice. This year, I called up two now-seniors from the last group to get 10 of their friends together. I also include a sophomore or two so that I always have a contact for next year. Tapas, grain bowls and late-night breakfast all originated from this group.

Ideas and Innovation
making meals

This summer, we teamed up with a church to deliver meals to three housing projects. We brought the meals to the church, and then the church recruited volunteers to deliver the meals to the children. We’ve been very impressed with this new model, and it shows great promise in getting meals to children who otherwise would not be able to leave their housing project.

Industry News & Opinion
sharing love

Having never personally experienced a hurricane, I can only imagine the horrors faced by the millions of people whose lives were affected by Harvey and Irma in late August and early September. It’s a group that comprises uncounted noncommercial operations, including Houston Independent School District, which serves 215,000 students.

But from that tragedy has come one of the most impressive feats of foodservice I’ve seen since coming on board at this magazine, partially spearheaded by Nutrition Officer Betti Wiggins , who only just joined the district. For the entire school year,...

FSD Resources