Activists Celebrate National Fried Chicken Day by Calling on KFC to Save Antibiotics

Media Contacts
Matt Wellington

Former Director, Public Health Campaigns, PIRG


Matthew Wellington
[email protected]

Activists Celebrate National Fried Chicken Day by Calling on KFC to Save Antibiotics

BOSTON — On National Fried Chicken Day, volunteers and staff with U.S. PIRG held thirty events in front of KFCs across the country to call on the Colonel of fried chicken to switch to serving chicken raised without routine antibiotics.

An increasing number of KFC’s competitors, including Chick-fil-A, McDonald’s, and Subway, plus the other two chains under the Yum! Brands label, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, have taken concrete steps towards phasing out chicken raised on routine antibiotics. These commitments are pushing the meat industry away from overusing these life-saving drugs.

“Who knew there was a ‘national fried chicken day’?” said Matthew Wellington, Field Director for U.S. PIRG’s Antibiotics Program. “But since there is such a day, we’re celebrating it by pushing KFC and other fried chicken chains to help stop the misuse of antibiotics on factory farms.”

U.S. PIRG staff and volunteers mobilized KFC customers to present “save antibiotics coupons” at the local KFC restaurants and delivered a letter to the local stores, signed by 90 consumer, health, and environmental groups, that had previously been delivered to corporate management in Louisville. The letter urged KFC to set a strong antibiotics policy.  Passersby were also asked to take photo petitions, which were tweeted to KFC with this message: “Happy #NationalFriedChickenDay @KFC the best fried chicken is raised without routine antibiotics.”

Earlier this year, KFC announced a “re-colonelization” of its brand, focused on returning to the quality with which the Colonel himself once made KFC’s famous chicken. At the nationwide events, participants urged KFC to honor the memory of that man in another way: by helping to preserve the very “miracle” drugs that could have saved his life. Colonel Sanders died of pneumonia, an illness that was often fatal before penicillin became widely-available.

“National Fried Chicken Day is KFC’s opportunity to not only revitalize its brand, but rise to its customers’ calls for chicken raised without misusing our life-saving medicines,” said Wellington. “Some of the biggest names in chicken have taken steps to reduce antibiotics in their production and supply chains. It’s time the Colonel acted as well.”

Commitments to reduce the misuse of antibiotics are even more urgent today, as new bacteria that are resistant to even the last-resort antibiotic, colistin, have emerged in farm animals and in humans both in the U.S. and worldwide. This has prompted many public health experts to call for immediate action to cut unnecessary antibiotics use. Already two million Americans get sick each year from antibiotic resistant infections, and 23,000 die.

Routine use of antibiotics on farms is a major part of the problem. Roughly 70% of antibiotics sold in the U.S. are for livestock and poultry. Many farms administer the drugs on a routine basis to animals that aren’t sick in order to make them grow faster and to prevent disease often brought on by unsanitary conditions. That practice breeds antibiotic resistant bacteria that spread off the farm through many channels.


U.S. PIRG is a consumer group that stands up to powerful interests whenever they threaten our health and safety, our financial security, or our right to fully participate in our democratic society. For decades, we’ve stood up for consumers, countering the influence of big banks, insurers, chemical manufacturers and other powerful special interests.