SF orders grocery chains to disclose antibiotics

Large grocery chains in San Francisco will now have to report the use of antibiotics in raw meat and poultry to The City.

Mayor Ed Lee signed legislation on Tuesday that will require grocery stores with 25 or more stores to report the use of antibiotics from their meat suppliers to the Department of Environment, who will then publish the information on its website for the public.

The Board of Supervisors passed the legislation last week.

Supervisor Jeff Sheehy, the sponsor of the legislation, said consumers should have the right to know how suppliers are producing their raw meat.

Sheehy said animals injected with antibiotics is harmful to the public as some people may become drug-resistant to a “superbug” bacteria:

“This ordinance will help stem the tide of antibiotic-resistant infections and provide consumers with information about the antibiotic use policy and practices behind meat products sold behind San Francisco stores.”

Lee said:

“We simply need more information to really find out what the evolution of this bacteria is doing in the market, in the supply chain, and when our kids and families and ourselves, eat these products.”

Jonathan Kaplan, director of the Food & Agriculture Program with the Natural Resources Defense Council, said San Francisco will become the first city in the nation to have a law requiring companies to disclose their use of antibiotics on livestock:

“For decades, this industry has operated in secrecy, and that stops here.”

A number of opponents of the legislation, including the California Cattlemen’s Association, wrote to Sheehy before the passage of the legislation calling the proposal ineffective:

“Unfortunately, the proposed ordinance seeks to put in place an effective, costly and impractical reporting program that will provide little information to consumers of beef and other meat and poultry products regarding why antibiotics are used and any risk of antimicrobial resistance that use presents.”

The legislation takes effect in 30 days. Grocery stores will have to start sending reports to the Department of Environment in six months, and then report to the department annually.