San Francisco Department of the Environment

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Antibiotic Use in Food Animals Ordinance

On October 24, 2017, the City of San Francisco passed an ordinance to require certain retailers of raw meat and poultry to report the use of antibiotics in these products to the Department of the Environment. 

Background

Antibiotics are a critical part of our medical toolbox. We use them to treat bacterial infections, such as strep throat, pneumonia and meningitis.

Unfortunately, antibiotic resistance – whereby bacteria are able to survive antibiotic treatment - is now a serious problem. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) considers antibiotic resistance to be one of the most urgent public health threats*. The overuse and misuse of antibiotics in both humans and animals can contribute to the proliferation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

When meat and poultry producers routinely use antibiotics, the bacteria that survive can proliferate and lead to infections that are less responsive to antibiotic treatment or aren’t treatable at all with antibiotics. Resistant strains of bacteria can quickly spread from farms to the wider world via soil, land, air, water, and farmworkers, as well as through raw meat and poultry sold in stores.

What Grocers Need to Know About the Antibiotic Use in Food Animals Ordinance

  • The ordinance applies to retailers that own and/or operate at least one grocery store, whether general or specialty, in the City of San Francisco, and also own or operate 25 or more grocery stores anywhere.
  • Once a year, Grocers who are subject to the ordinance will report their meat and poultry producers’ antibiotics use policies and practices to the Department of the Environment.
  • A Grocer may submit a petition requesting a waiver for specific reporting requirements if it is infeasible to provide that information without significant hardship.
  • To be added to our stakeholder list and informed of any updates, please email [email protected]

Resources for Grocers

FAQs

  1. What is the purpose of San Francisco’s Antibiotic Use in Food Animals Ordinance?

The Antibiotic Use in Food Animals Ordinance seeks to contribute to the fight against antibiotics resistance by providing information to consumers in San Francisco about how antibiotics are being used to raise their meat and poultry.

  1. What types of businesses does this ordinance apply to?

The Ordinance applies to Grocers that own or operate at least one grocery store in San Francisco, and also have 25 or more stores worldwide. In addition, we encourage Grocers outside the scope of this Ordinance to report voluntarily their meat and poultry Producers’ use of antibiotics to the Department.

Note: certain City Departments are also bound by the Ordinance; however, as their reporting requirements differ significantly from Grocers’, this website is focused on the requirements for Grocers.

  1. What is the reporting period?

The reporting period is the calendar year, from January to December, prior to the year in which reporting is due.

  1. What is the difference between antibiotics that are called “medically-important” versus “non-medically important”?

Medically-important antibiotics are those that are used to treat bacterial infections in humans. Non-medically important antibiotics are drugs that are not currently used to treat infections in humans. The efficacy of medically-important antibiotics has been declining, and therefore measures to reduce the overuse and misuse of medically-important antibiotics are key to preserving the effectiveness of life-saving drugs.

  1. Our storewide policy prohibits the use of medically-important antibiotics in all meat and poultry Product Groups. Do we still need to submit a report on antibiotic use policies and practices?

Yes. However, the reporting requirements for Grocers that have storewide policies prohibiting the use of medically-important antibiotics in all their meat and poultry Product Groups are simplified, as outlined in the draft regulations.

6. Do we need to report on all raw meat and poultry protducts?

Currently, Grocers must only report on raw meat and poultry products for the following animal species: chicken, turkey, pork, beef, and sheep.

7. What ar the deadlines to submit a report or to file a waiver petition?

The deadline to file waiver petitiions is March 1, and the deadline to submit Reporting Forms is May 3 (or the next business day if May 3 falls on a weekend).


* Centers for Disease Control, 2017. “Antibiotic Resistance Questions and Answers,” available at https://www.cdc.gov/getsmart/community/about/antibiotic-resistance-faqs.html.

 

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