Whether you realize it or not, the majority of animal products consumed in the U.S. are laced with a number of unappetizing substances, including steroidal hormones and antibiotics.
This is because industrial feedlots often inject animals with synthetic hormones to make them grow faster and/or produce leaner meat for food. While the end result may be good for farmers’ wallets, humans who consume them don’t fare as well.
Antibiotics, for example, are given to animals to protect them from insanity living conditions found in feedlots. When humans routinely ingest them through the meat, however, the ‘good’ bacteria in their gut is eradicated, they become more prone to developing weight, and the antibiotics can counter the effects of other treatments. Finally, take into consideration that 80% of the antibiotics sold in the United States are used on livestock – that’s shocking.
Not only do animals benefit when they’re allowed to live in sanitary conditions and are not injected with steroids, the humans who eat them experience better health, as well. For this reason, a major LA school district is switching the chicken it sources for school meals to be completely hormone-and-antibiotic-free.
USA Today reports that on March 8, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) voted to become the first school district of its size to require hormone-and-antibiotic-free chicken in its school meals. At present, more than 732,800 students are enrolled in the district’s 1,274 schools.
The full changes will go into effect in fall 2017.
Reportedly, the switch to “clean chicken” is a result of the district’s Good Food Procurement resolution, which was launched by school board president Steve Zimmer. The resolution requires that LAUSD fully adopt Good Food Purchasing Guidelines, as defined by the LA Food Policy Council. The importance of local economies, environmental sustainability, valued workforce, animal welfare, and nutrition are stressed in the guidelines.
In fact, the district broke ties with Tyson because of the way it treats its chickens, even though the company is striving to eliminate the use of human antibiotics in its broiler chicken flocks by September 2017.
One of the Food Policy Council’s environmental sustainability standards specifically calls for the avoidance of hormones and antibiotics in meat. Undoubtedly, this is because antimicrobial resistance is on the rise and on the minds of health experts around the world. In fact, unnecessary antibiotic use in farm animals is one of the two main causes of antimicrobial resistance. The other is over-prescribing of drugs.
This isn’t the only improvement to be adopted by the district. Over the past decade, the school board has required meals to contain less fat, salt, and sugar. In addition, meals were required to contain more fresh fruit, vegetables, and meat-free options. Sodas and junk food are no longer sold at any of the schools, either.
LAUSD collaborates with school districts in New York City, Chicago, Dallas, Miami, and Orlando in swapping ideas concerning food policy. All six school districts are part of the Urban School Food Alliance (USFA), which intends to change school meals for the better.
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