KFC to stop serving chickens raised with certain antibiotics
Brands, Inc. (NYSE:YUM), is planning to phase out all chicken raised on human antibiotics.
Many medical scientists regard farm use of drugs that treat human infections as particularly risky because the practice risks promoting superbugs that can defeat life-saving human antibiotics.
"Making this change was complex and took a lot of planning", said KFC U.S. President and Chief Concept Officer Kevin Hochman, in a news release. However, KFC claims that it is for the first time that a major national quick service restaurant chain in the USA has extended an antibiotics commitment beyond boneless chicken to its chicken-on-the-bone menu items.
U.S. PIRG and its partners - including Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), Consumers Union, Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT), and Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) - delivered a letter signed by more than eighty consumer, health, and environmental organizations to Yum! The letter urged the restaurant company to phase out the routine use of medically important antibiotics in its meat supply chain.
The announcement is the latest move in KFC's USA brand "turnaround", which it labels the "re-colonelization" of KFC.
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Matthew Wellington, antibiotics program director for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, said the policy change "should have lasting effects on the way these life-saving medicines are used in the chicken industry". Therefore, KFC's move will affect more than just the chicken it buys, Wellington said.
The fried chicken chain says the change will be completed by the end of next year at all of its US restaurants. "The market is responding to consumer demand for better meat". The brand has also made recent commitments to ensure all core products are free of artificial colors and flavors by 2018 and make its menu free of food dyes by this year, with the exception of beverages and third-party products. KFC's antibiotic policy is set on a country-by-country basis, he added.
Human infections from antibiotic-resistant bacteria pose a grave threat to global health. Brands Headquarters, almost 5,000 consumer calls into KFC's customer service line, and hundreds of social media actions directed at KFC (using #KFCsaveABX).
Conservatively, at least 2 million Americans are already infected with antibiotic-resistant infections every year, and at least 23,000 die as a direct result, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Other shareholder advocates, such as Green Century Capital Management, have secured antibiotics policies from Starbucks and Jack in the Box in the last several months.
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