Huge news, and hat tip to excellent food-policy writer Monica Eng at the Chicago Tribune: In a piece published Tuesday, she details that 300 hospitals in the Chicago area and nationwide have begun preferentially buying and serving meat that is raised without the use of antibiotics.
Using the ingredients is primarily a response to patient demand, said (Carolyn Lammersfeld, national director of nutrition at Cancer Treatment Centers of America) but the centers are also “watching the controversy over the nontherapeutic use of antibiotics and their potential to cause resistant strains of bacteria.”
The issue is of particular concern for cancer patients, who have compromised immune systems, she noted. “Many also might already being taking antibiotics, so they don’t want additional ones in food if they can avoid it,” Lammersfeld said.
(Diane Imrie, director of nutrition services at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Vermont) estimated that her food costs rose about $67,000 last year when she switched to antibiotic-free chicken from conventional. “But that’s also about the same cost as treating a single MRSA infection,” she said.