KFC Says Goodbye to Antibiotics

KFC to stop using chickens raised with human antibiotics

Matthew Wellington, program director for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, or PIRG, a consumer group, said KFC's move alone could push the percentage of the chicken industry under an antibiotics commitment or already using responsible practices to more than 50 percent.

Many medical scientists regard farm use of drugs that treat human infections as particularly unsafe because the practice risks promoting superbugs that can defeat life-saving human antibiotics.

KFC said Friday that it will stop serving chickens raised with certain antibiotics.

There was no indication from KFC that the practice would be extended to restaurant chains in Canada.

"This is another major milestone in our Re-Colonelization efforts", Kevin Hochman, President and Chief Concept Officer for KFC U.S., said in a statement. Poultry suppliers who supply the company's 4,200 restaurants have until the end of 2018 to meet the new requirements.

Today's announcement is the latest step in the brand's US turnaround, which focused on returning to its roots and providing finger lickin' good chicken in every bucket, boxed meal and sandwich. Industry leaders including Subway, Chick-fil-A, Chipotle, McDonald's and others have made various commitments to eliminate unnecessary antibiotic use from their supply chains. Therefore, KFC's move will affect more than just the chicken it buys, Wellington said. But health experts say it leads to germs becoming resistant to drugs and makes antibiotics ineffective in treating some illnesses in people. KFC's commitment is a significant addition to this progress because it could push the USA chicken industry over the threshold for better antibiotic stewardship.

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Given its stature, KFC had been the focus of several antibiotic reduction campaigns by consumer, health and environment groups, including U.S. PIRG, as well as from a coalition of British and U.S. shareholders with more than $2 trillion in assets under management.

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.

Right now the policy will only take effect at KFCs in the USA, so you might want to hold off on eating at the chain if and when you travel outside the country - oh, and obviously until the 2018 antibiotic ban takes effect. That includes initiatives to simplify operations, retrain workers, build new ads around the idea of the chain's original founder, Colonel Harland Sanders, remodel more than 3,000 stores.

For one thing, KFC is a big buyer - it's the largest chicken-on-the-bone quick-service chain in the country.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least two million Americans are already infected with antibiotic-resistant infections every year, and at least 23,000 die as a direct result. The S&P 500 index is up 15.5% for the last 12 months.

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