A nationwide call: KFC, help save antibiotics!

Over eighty organizations and hundreds of consumers launched a call for KFC to switch to selling chicken raised without routine antibiotics. 

Anya Vanecek

I’m excited to say we joined over eighty organizations yesterday in calling on KFC to purchase meat raised without routine antibiotics!

Last year we saw many in the chicken industry make very specific announcements about their efforts and goals to raise their flocks without antibiotics. These were major steps in the right direction for public health. If KFC gets on board, it would push even more chicken producers to set better antibiotics policies, and force those raising the animals to change their ways.

This is important. As of now, roughly 70% of the antibiotics we rely on to save lives are sold for use on livestock and poultry. These antibiotics are frequently given to animals that aren’t sick, to promote growth and prevent disease. The practice also contributes significantly to the development of antibiotic-resistant “superbugs”: Bacteria that can resist the drugs we’d normally use to fight them and can, therefore, cause infections that are difficult – if not impossible — to treat.

The good news is that consumers are increasingly becoming wise to the problems with the overuse of antibiotics in agriculture, and are voting with their voices and wallets for an end to this practice. And this pressure is already making waves.

Major restaurant chains like McDonald’s, Subway, Chick-fil-A, Chipotle, Noodles & Company, and others have already taken action, either because they were moved by the severity of the problem, because they wanted to meet consumers’ demands, or both. And by setting timelines to stop purchasing meat raised without antibiotics, these chains are insisting that their livestock and poultry producers change their ways, or else risk losing a major purchaser.

 For example: In 2015, McDonald’s committed to sell only chicken raised without the routine use of medically important antibiotics. Shortly after, Tyson Foods, a major supplier of chicken to McDonald’s, announced that they would eliminate the use of human antibiotics in much of their poultry production. In October, Subway doubled down on the McDonald’s announcement when it agreed to phase out the use of antibiotics in all the meat it serves — poultry, beef and pork — by 2025.

These commitments come not a moment too soon. Antibiotic resistance is on the rise, causing infections that kill 23,000 Americans every year, a number which is predicted to rise significantly in the years ahead. But more chains – KFC included – may not join the fight unless they know consumers demand it.

Here’s how you can help make sure that KFC knows exactly how we want our buckets of extra-crispy: take a photo holding a sign that read “I love KFC, but I’m hungry for chicken raised without routine antibiotics,” or “KFC, help save antibiotics! and tweet or Instagram it @KFC with #KFCsaveABX. Send them a message on Facebook, and of course, sign our petition.

As Matt Wellington, our Antibiotics Field Director, put it when announcing our efforts to persuade KFC to take action: “Consumers and public health experts have placed an order to KFC for a bucket of chicken raised without routine antibiotics. Kentucky Fried Chicken should serve up a strong antibiotics policy in 2016 that sets the stage for an industry wide shift.”


Anya Vanecek