Kenmore Mercy Hospital Cafeteria Serving Up Antibiotic Free Chicken

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May 15, 2014

Chef Vinny Richter prepares a chicken meal in the cafeteria kitchen.

Chef Vinny Richter prepares a chicken meal in the cafeteria kitchen. 

Patients, staff and visitors to Kenmore Mercy Hospital can now enjoy a healthier version of their traditional lunch. The hospital’s menu now includes antibiotic-free chicken breasts. With the changes, the hospital is helping lead the trend toward serving healthier, antibiotic-free meats.

The move to antibiotic-free chicken is the hospital’s latest initiative to promote a healthier community. It also offers, “Meatless Mondays,” “300 calorie Tuesdays” and is using biodegradable utensils and plates.

Kathy McAlpine, Food Services manager, explained, “The menu enhancements were spurred in part by concern about bacteria’s growing resistance to antibiotics.”

The use of antibiotics in livestock, especially in the low doses given for growth promotion, could lead to more antibiotic resistant bacteria in animals and, eventually in people. According to the Food and Drug Administration, 80 percent of all antibiotics sold in the U.S. are used to promote faster growth in otherwise healthy animals and to compensate for unsanitary and overcrowded living conditions.

Meanwhile, the healthcare community is increasingly instituting policies to help combat antibiotic resistance in patient care and to minimize exposure to unnecessary antibiotics as part of broader environmental sustainability plans.

“Antibiotic resistance is a serious threat to public health and patient safety with the declining effectiveness of key antibiotics,” said James Swiencicki, MD, an infectious disease specialist.

“Infections caused by antimicrobial-resistant pathogens kill tens of thousands of Americans each year. Evolving scientific evidence demonstrates that antibiotic use in agriculture contributes to the development of resistant bacteria and their spread to humans. For this reason, it is vital we reduce unnecessary use of antibiotics in agriculture and support appropriate antibiotic use by clinicians and patients,” he added.

Kenmore Mercy Hospital has been recognized locally and nationally for its efforts to promote wellness and sustainability, receiving awards in 2012 from the Kenmore-Tonawanda Chamber of Commerce and Practice Greenhealth for offering more vegetarian menu options, increasing its use of composting, reducing waste, launching single stream recycling, and other initiatives. It also participates in national campaigns including the Healthier Hospitals Initiative. 

The cafeteria’s recent efforts compliment those of the pharmacy at Kenmore Mercy Hospital, which launched an antibiotic stewardship program 2012.  In fact, the antibiotic stewardship program is gaining national attention. James Bartlett, PharmD, clinical pharmacist, and Patricia Siola, PharmD, MBA, PHD, FASHP, FACHE, pharmacy director, will be published in the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy, on June 1, and will be featured in a podcast on the subject in mid-May.  This will be one of only a few publications on antimicrobial stewardship programs in hospitals under 200 beds.