KFC to stop using chickens raised with human antibiotics

As KFC shuns some antibiotics, US chicken industry deploys wet wipes, oregano

The leading chicken chain, owned by Yum Brands Inc, is giving its US poultry suppliers until the end of 2018 to stop using antibiotics important to human medicine.

While the privately owned Chick-fil-A stopped putting antibiotics in its products in 2014, followed by McD's in 2016, and then Taco Bell and Pizza Hut last month, KFC is finally promising to do the same - by the end of 2018.

Treating farm animals with antibiotics can cause resistant bacteria to grow and if people are infected from improper handling or cooking, they run the risk of serious illness or death, according to the Centers for Disease Control. But the practice has become a public health issue, as it can lead to germs becoming resistant to drugs. But KFC said it believes it is on the cutting edge in trying to go without antibiotics when it comes to on-the-bone chicken.

"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 US and in the fight against the growing epidemic of drug-resistant infections", Brook said. Chick-fil-A has said that by 2019 it will only serve chicken that has never been given any antibiotics.

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"This announcement is a win for anybody who might someday depend on antibiotics to get well or even save their lives - i.e. everybody", Matthew Wellington, program director for U.S. PIRG's antibiotics program, said in a press release.

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.

"We recognize that it's a growing public health concern", KFC U.S. President Kevin Hochman told Reuters.

KFC also recently pledged to eliminate artificial colors and flavors from all of its core products by the end of 2018 and to have 100% of the menu, except for drinks and third-party products, free of food dyes by the end of this year.

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Using data from a 2017 WATT PoultryUSA survey, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) estimates that more than 42 percent of the US chicken industry is either under an antibiotics stewardship pledge or has already converted to responsible practices. Brands Headquarters, almost 5,000 consumer calls into KFC's customer service line, and hundreds of social media actions directed at KFC (using #KFCsaveABX).

"It's great news for fried chicken lovers, and most importantly it's great news for public health", Brook said.

The growing ranks of global health experts who have been alarmed by the rise in antibiotic-resistant "superbugs" have an unlikely new hero: KFC, the fried chicken giant.

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