The San Francisco Board of Supervisors recently passed Ordinance No. 170763—Environment Code: Antibiotic Use in Food Animals—that will require large grocery stores to submit reports that detail the use of antibiotics in the livestock they use for meat and poultry products.

The ordinance reads:

Ordinance amending the Environment Code to require certain retailers of raw meat and poultry to report the use of antibiotics in such products to the Department of the Environment, and require City departments to report the use of antibiotics in raw meat and poultry purchased by the City to the Department of the Environment.

Specifically, the ordinance will require grocery stores to report the following:

  • the different purposes for which antibiotics are used
  • whether or not the use has a Third-Party Certification
  • the average number of days of antibiotic use per animal
  • the percentage of animals treated with antibiotics
  • the number of animals raised
  • the total volume of antibiotics administered
  • Which antibiotics used are “medically important”, vs. the ones used that are not

Feedback across the meat industry has been largely unfavorable.

The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) released a statement calling San Francisco’s ordinance “expensive” and “duplicative.” The statement also says that FMI is “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.”  

The North American Meat Institute calls the ordinance “a recipe for disaster.”

Overall, say that the work required to keep up with the new ordinance will be expensive, ultimately causing meat and poultry prices to increase. Another criticism is that the ordinance will have no obvious benefit on the state of public health. Others say that livestock recordkeeping and reporting requirements already put in place by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (and suggested by FMI) are sufficient, making San Francisco’s ordinance unnecessary.

FMI says that despite their disappointment with San Francisco’s ordinance, they will continue to play a role in the rule-making process.

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