School Food Focus (SFF) has partnered with the Natural Resources Defense Council in circulating an online petition asking U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to expand the USDA Foods Program to offer chicken raised without the routine use of medically important antibiotics.

School Food Focus, which created the Certified Responsible Antibiotic Use (CRAU) standard to replace conventionally produced chicken with the intent to strengthen schools’ power to purchase poultry products it deems healthier.

In order for a poultry company’s products to carry the CRAU seal, producers must comply with seven basic rules to restrict antibiotic use:

  1. No administration of antibiotics pre-hatch
  2. Antibiotics with analogues in human medicine can only be used therapeutically as defined by the CRAU
  3. In CRAU, “therapeutic use refers to antibiotics with analogues to human drugs
  4. If antibiotics are used therapeutically as defined by CRAU, records of diagnosis, treatment and outcome must be retained for auditor review
  5. Non-therapeutic use of antibiotics with analogues in human medicine is disallowed
  6. Use of drugs with no analogues in human medicine is allowed. These permitted veterinary drugs have no relationship to human drugs and are not used in treating human disease
  7. A feed containing a veterinary feed directive (VFD) shall be fed to animals only by or upon a lawful VFD issued by a licensed veterinarian in the course of the veterinarian’s professional practice and within the confines of a valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship.

“Many schools purchase chicken through the USDA Foods program, as it is one way they can make their school lunch dollars go further,” SFF stated. “However, no CRAU chicken is currently available through the program. This is why School Food Focus has joined National Resources Defense Council in urging the USDA to make CRAU chicken available for schools through the USDA Foods program. This would not only make CRAU poultry available to many more schools across our country, but it would have a significant impact in helping fight the growing public health threats from antibiotic resistant bacteria nationwide.”