ARLINGTON, VA – Food Marketing Institute (FMI) President and CEO Leslie G. Sarasin offered the following statement today on the proposed San Francisco ordinance that will require food retail establishments to disclose the use of antimicrobials in animals produced for food: 

“The San Francisco ordinance on antimicrobial use in food/animals, which will receive a second reading before the city board of supervisors next week, is an ill-conceived document that if not revised, will require expensive, duplicative reporting and recordkeeping on products already clearly marked at retail as USDA certified organic or ‘Raised without Antibiotics.’

“Under the city’s proposal certain food retail establishments, including both traditional grocers and specialty food retail establishments with 25 or more stores nationwide, will be forced to produce and maintain redundant paperwork about antimicrobial usage or non-usage in meat.  This information is already predominantly provided and federally regulated on the fresh meat label for those consumers who seek products from animals raised without antibiotics. Shoppers have the option to purchase certified organic products or products that are labeled as ‘Raised without Antibiotics’ or an approved variation of this nomenclature. The San Francisco ordinance fails to recognize that these meat cuts are – by definition – free from antimicrobial treatments.

“Furthermore, the ordinance discounts the antimicrobial regulatory authority under the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Residue Monitoring Program administered by FDA, EPA and USDA, which exists to ensure that veterinary drugs, such as antibiotics, and chemical compounds are used as intended, and that the food supply is safe for consumption.

“Food retailers seek to provide their customers with a variety of product choices, and at the lowest cost possible, which enables shoppers to express their unique preferences – including a growing number of organic options. Additionally, grocery stores strive to provide customers with information that helps guide them in making the best choices for themselves and their families. The San Francisco ordinance adds an entirely unnecessary, costly and potentially confusing layer of paperwork to this issue.  The retail industry supports FDA’s actions to ensure the judicious use of antimicrobials in food animal production. In addition, FMI supports increased veterinary oversight for the therapeutic uses of such drugs to preserve animal health, especially since all approved antibiotics have been through a thorough scientific review by the FDA.  FMI objects strenuously to additional duplicative and unnecessary regulatory burdens that add costs to the system, and ultimately to our San Francisco customers, and do nothing to enhance their education about the products they purchase.

“The safety and quality of foods sold to customers are the top priority of food retailers.  Consumer trust in their neighborhood market is high because these retailers provide safe, healthy and nutritious food for their communities on a daily basis.”


Read the FMI letter to The Honorable Ed Lee, Mayor, City and County of San Francisco here.