All I want for Christmas is responsibly-raised meat.

I don't want a lot for Christmas, there is just one thing I need...

Food & farming

Anya Vanecek

My first Christmas list was probably illegible; my second almost certainly included a real live pet baby seal. Since around age 10, I have no recollection of writing any Christmas list. But I’m writing one this year, and because Santa may not be able to fulfill my request, I’m directing this letter to one that can.

                Dear KFC,

All I really want for Christmas this year is your help ending the routine use of antibiotics on factory farms and the not-so-jolly rise of antibiotic resistance.

McDonald’s, Subway, Noodles & Company, and the state of California are among those that took action in 2015. Chick-fil-A, Chipotle, and Panera Bread adopted policies even earlier to protect antibiotics. I’m hoping you’ll join them.

Superbugs kill at least 23,000 Americans every year, and the problem is only getting worse. Imagine unwrapping a brand-new tennis racket and shoes tomorrow, and rushing to the courts to play. Breaking in those shoes might leave you with a blister — not a big deal today, but an injury that killed Calvin Coolidge Jr. in 1924, when antibiotics weren’t available to treat the infection that developed. That’s hardly merry and bright, but it’s a very real possibility as the overuse and misuse of antibiotics leaves more and more of our life-saving medicines ineffective.

KFC, I need you put the health and safety of your customers first. I need you to commit to phasing out the routine use of antibiotics from your chicken supply.

I can’t think of a better gift than that – for me and the entire nation.

With more marketplace actors like you on our side, we can put a definitive end to a practice that is as nonsensical as it is dangerous: the routine use of antibiotics on livestock and poultry. This practice breeds antibiotics-resistant bacteria, which can rapidly multiply, spread off of the farm and into communities via contaminated water, soil, or food. The infections caused by these so-called “superbugs” can be difficult – and increasingly, impossible – to treat, because the medicines we have to treat them simply don’t work.  

That’s where you come in, KFC. In 2015, McDonald’s committed to phasing out the use of human antibiotics from its chicken; Noodles & Company and Subway joined them with commitments to all their meat. While your commitment to not use “critically important” antibiotics is a step in the right direction, the antibiotics defined as such are very few, and a substantial number of medically important antibiotics remain open for misuse.

A commitment to phase out the routine use of all human antibiotics is not only critical to protect public health, it’s also good for business. Make no mistake, I’m not alone in wanting meat raised without routine antibiotics on the menu. When you commit to helping save antibiotics, you’ll be meeting the demands of a growing number consumers, and nearly all health care professionals are concerned about the routine use of antibiotics in meat production. That’s a lot of happy potential customers – our gift to you.

Truth be told, I’m hoping every large restaurant chain will join the list of leaders committed to protecting antibiotics. But I’m writing to you, KFC, in part because the chicken industry is changing faster than the beef and pork industries, and chicken is your calling card. Not to mention that Col. Sanders sure looks like a close relative of Santa.

So please KFC, show your holiday spirit this season with a commitment to serve chicken raised without routine antibiotics. It’s exactly what America needs.

                Thanks in advance,

Join me in calling on KFC to join the growing number of fast food chains committed to helping save antibiotics.


Anya Vanecek