Nationâ??s largest school districts move toward acquiring antibiotic-free chickenThe Urban School Food Alliance, a coalition of the largest school districts in the US—including New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami-Dade, Dallas and Orlando—announced an antibiotic-free standard for companies to follow when supplying chicken products to its schools.

The alliance said this action is being taken to protect the future of students.

The alliance, which serves about 2.9 million students every day, aims to use its joint purchasing power and influence to help drive down nationwide costs, while setting higher standards for the quality of food served in its schools.

The alliance says it focused on chicken because it’s one of the most popular items served in cafeterias.

“The standards we're asking from the manufacturers go above and beyond the quality of the chicken we normally purchase at local supermarkets,” said Urban School Food Alliance Chairman Eric Goldstein and CEO of school support services for the New York City Department of Education. “This move by the alliance shows that school food directors across the country truly care about the health and wellness of students.”

In a collaborative effort, the alliance formed the following standard:

The alliance will require that all chicken products must be produced under a USDA Process Verified Program that includes compliance with the following:

No animal by-products in the feed

Raised on an all-vegetarian diet

Humanely raised as outlined in the National Chicken Council Animal Welfare Guidelines

No antibiotics ever

“Purchasing meat and poultry raised without the unnecessary use of antibiotics is critical to ensuring the safety of our children," said Mark Izeman, senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a non-profit partner of the alliance. “Today's transformational move will not only have a dramatic impact on the quality of school meals, but will also help push the entire food industry to move away from animals raised with improper antibiotic use.”