KFC to nix antibiotics from chicken by 2018

09 April, 2017, 02:35 | Author: Celia Hoffman
  • KFC to stop using chickens raised with antibiotics

Estimates suggest the company's newfound commitment could lead to a majority of the US chicken industry no longer raising birds with the routine use of medically important antibiotics.

Tyson, the largest US poultry producer and a KFC supplier, has announced plans to eliminate the use of human antibiotics in its chicken flocks by September 2017. And at the moment, that delightful Kentucky Fried Chicken you're consuming contains antibiotics that are used in human medicine.

"We're constantly working to meet the changing preferences of our customers, while ensuring we deliver on the value they expect from KFC", said Kevin Hochman, president and chief concept officer for KFC U.S. "Offering chicken raised without medically important antibiotics is the next step in that journey". Chipotle and Panera Bread have had long-standing commitments not to serve chicken raised with potentially harmful antibiotics.

KFC is the last of the big three chicken restaurants to join the fight against the rise of risky antibiotic-resistant bacteria known as superbugs.

Meat producers give animals antibiotics to make them grow faster and prevent illness.

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.

KFC is "among the largest buyers of chicken in the United States", according to a press release from PIRG.

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Earlier this year, our colleagues at Consumers Union gathered more than 125,000 signatures on a petition calling on KFC and others to finally adopt policies reducing their use of antibiotics.

Yet in a recent report card on restaurants' antibiotics policies, KFC was one of 16 chains that scored a failing grade. Eleven of the 15 largest restaurant chains in the USA have committed to ending the use of antibiotics on some level. "This commitment from the nation's most iconic fast food chicken chain will have a major impact on the way the birds are raised in the USA and in the fight against the growing epidemic of drug-resistant infections". That would signal a major shift in prioritizing antibiotic stewardship in chicken production, which will help to preserve these life-saving medicines for the future.

"KFC's new policy will be a game changer for the fast-food industry and public health", Lena Brook, food policy advocate for the NRDC, said in a statement.

Today, all KFC chicken (and most of its menu) is free of food dyes, and 100 percent of the menu will be free of food dyes by the end of 2017 (excluding beverages and third-party products).

Farmers had used antibiotics in chickens to stimulate growth, but growing concern over the impact of this practice, and notably its potential to encourage antibiotic resistance in humans, has led to a push to change the practice.

"This is another major milestone in our Re-Colonelization efforts", said Hochman. This move marks the first time a major national quick service restaurant (QSR) chain in the USA has extended an antibiotics commitment beyond boneless chicken to its chicken-on-the-bone menu items.

"We had to convince our suppliers to go for the change and then they worked with us", Sukumar said.

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