KFC will serve chicken raised without human antibiotics in the U.S.by the end of 2018, the company said Friday, adding its considerable weight to the push to change the way poultry is treated.
"We're constantly working to meet the changing preferences of our customers, while ensuring we deliver on the value they expect from KFC", Kevin Hochman, president and chief concept officer of KFC U.S., said in a statement.
Meat producers give animals antibiotics to make them grow faster and prevent illness, a practice that has become a public health issue. Officials have said that it can lead to germs becoming resistant to drugs, making antibiotics no longer effective in treating some illnesses in humans.
Other fast food companies have made similar pledges, including McDonald's. Chick-fil-A is going a step further, vowing in 2014 to switch to poultry raised without any antibiotics at all by the end of 2019.
Although government action at the national level has been slow in the United States, consumer demand is driving the marketplace away from routine antibiotic use. Brands which owns the quick service restaurant. The company said 100-percent of its menu, excluding beverages and third-party products, would be free of food dyes by the end of the year.
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KFC is among the largest buyers of chicken in the country, and estimates suggest that the company's move could create a positive rippling effect through the chicken industry, U.S. PIRG's release stated.
Using data from a 2017 WATT PoultryUSA survey, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) estimates that more than 42 percent of the USA chicken industry is either under an antibiotics stewardship pledge or has already converted to responsible practices.
More information about these changes and additional ingredient work are available at kfc.com/responsibility.
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.
In the past year, Consumers Union, along with Natural Resource Defense Council, U.S. Public Interest Research Group and others sent petitions signed by almost half a million consumers to Yum Brands, which includes KFC, asking the company to adopt a meaningful no-antibiotics policy.
Yum's Taco Bell chain already committed to serve chicken raised without antibiotics important to human medicine in all USA restaurants by the end of last month.