The CRAU Standard

SFF RAU logoIn 2014, FOCUS and Pew developed the Certified Responsible Antibiotic Use Standard to minimize the use of antibiotics in poultry production and offer schools a viable way to put poultry raised with responsible antibiotic use on the menu. CRAU is the first USDA-certified standard that allows for minimal use of medically important antibiotics in poultry production—but only when prescribed by a licensed veterinarian. Poultry companies interested in meeting CRAU must undergo regular USDA audits to verify conformance. [Download CRAU]

Official Listing of Approved Certified Responsible Antibiotic Use Programs [Link]

CRAU Infographic [download]

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Rationale for responsible use

The efficacy of antibiotics in treating human disease is seriously compromised by their use in livestock production to promote growth or to compensate for the effects of overcrowded and unsanitary conditions. While any use of antibiotics can potentially contribute to the development of bacterial resistance, the routine use that is common on American farms has hastened this process.[1] Most of the antibiotics sold in the U.S.—70 percent—are used in food animal production.[2] People who eat meat and poultry and people who do not are equally affected because drug resistant bacteria can spread beyond animals and into produce and the environment. Excessive agricultural use of antibiotics has resulted in a perilous situation that, if not soon contained, will profoundly affect the future well-being of today’s children. The World Health Organization warns of a “post-antibiotic era” and acknowledges the routine antimicrobials in vast numbers of healthy animals use on farms as a culprit.[3] Other major health authorities are in strong agreement with this position.[4] FOCUS and Pew recognize the value of some antibiotic applications, in very limited circumstances, for the treatment of certain illnesses in food animal production. Responsible antibiotic use helps protect medically important drugs and promotes better animal husbandry.

[1] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States, 2013”(September 2013)

[2] Food and Drug Administration, Department of Health and Human Services, “2011 Summary Report on Antimicrobials Sold or Distributed for Use in Food-Producing Animals” (September 2014)

[3]  World Health Organization, “WHO’s First Global Report on Antibiotic Resistance Reveals Serious, Worldwide Threat to Public Health” (April 2014)

[4]  These include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Public Health Association, the American College of Preventative Medicine, the Union of Concerned Scientists, Consumers Union, the Infectious Diseases Society of America, and the Institute of Medicine.

Chicken in schools

Overuse of medically important antibiotics occurs not just on poultry farms, but throughout the American livestock industry. FOCUS and Pew have partnered to address responsible use of antibiotics in poultry production because of the unique position school districts hold in shifting demand. Chicken is the most popular protein served in schools, offered daily in many cafeterias across the nation. FOCUS school districts, composed of the nation’s leading institutional purchasers of food for children, buy tens of millions of pounds of chicken each academic year. As such, they are in a unique position to catalyze poultry production reform.

It is important to note that the poultry currently served in schools is safe and wholesome. The use of antibiotics in raising poultry does not compromise its nutritional value.