Beginning on October 1, more hospitals will have access to healthier, more sustainably produced chicken, thanks to an agreement between Premier healthcare alliance and Murray’s Chicken of South Fallsburg, N.Y.

Murray’s chicken is raised on Pennsylvania farms and processed in New York state. In addition to producing its chicken without the use of antibiotics and arsenic, Murray’s production methods have also been certified to meet the Humane Farm Animal Care Certified Humane Raised & Handled standards. Premier’s contract with Murray’s Chicken will make sustainably produced chicken more accessible and affordable not only to hospitals, but to other institutional Premier alliance members as well. Members will be able to access these products through U.S. Foodservice, Premier’s primary distributor.

This contract is a significant decision for hospitals around the country striving to create sustainable food service options. “The routine use of antibiotics and arsenic compounds in chicken production is unnecessary and an on-going health concern,” said Gary Cohen, executive director of the Health Care Without Harm organization. “We are very pleased that Premier is leading the sustainability effort by providing their members with this healthier, more sustainable chicken option, and we hope that other purchasing organizations will follow their lead.”

“Our facilities buy and serve a great deal of chicken,” said Nancy Mulvihill, VP of corporate communications for Covenant Health Systems and head of Covenant’s Environmental Committee. Covenant Health Systems is based in New England and belongs to Yankee Alliance, a Premier member. “And as much as possible we’d like to support producers whose practices do not further jeopardize the continued effectiveness of antibiotics.”

Pat Burdullis, supply chain administrator for Catholic Healthcare West, a 41-hospital health system that serves Arizona, California and Nevada, concurs. “As a health care provider we are committed to preventing illness and creating a healthier food system and we are pleased that Premier is helping us to make that possible.” As a former member of Premier’s food service committee, Pat has been an active proponent for more sustainable chicken options.

Through its Healthy Food in Health Care Program, HCWH and its partner organizations have been working to achieve this result for more than six years. “Many hospitals have wanted to buy these products, but the increased cost and lack of availability through their mainline distributors have been significant barriers,” said Marie Kulick, sustainable procurement advisor for HCWH. “We really hope that these hospitals will now take full advantage of this healthier option as it is more readily available and a better price.”

Anders Grant, clinical dietitian at Carroll Hospital Center in Westminster, MD, added, “Our hospital has been purchasing some sustainable poultry and we will be able to purchase more with the additional availability via Murray’s Chicken. We also hope this new development will help increase the purchase of healthier, more sustainable poultry across the health care sector.”

Covenant Health Systems, Catholic Healthcare West and Carroll Hospital Center are three of the more than 350 hospitals, health systems and long-term care facilities that have signed the HCWH Healthy Food in Health Care Pledge, indicating their commitment to the goal of providing local, nutritious and sustainably-produced food.

Murray’s Chicken is also very excited about the Premier contract. “As a smaller, family owned business it is rare for us to be given the same opportunity to be awarded a contract as the commodity chicken companies,” said Steve Gold, VP of marketing and sales for Murray’s Chicken. “We are excited that more of our products will be served in hospitals.”

Source: Health Care Without Harm