Kentucky Health Professionals Send Kentucky Fried Chicken Clear Message: Serve Chicken Raised Without Routine Antibiotics

Media Contacts
Matt Wellington

Former Director, Public Health Campaigns, PIRG


For Immediate Release
July 20, 2016

Matthew Wellington
[email protected]

Kentucky Health Professionals Send Kentucky Fried Chicken Clear Message:

Serve Chicken Raised Without Routine Antibiotics

LOUISVILLE, KY. — U.S. PIRG (Public Interest Research Group) is sending a letter signed by over thirty Kentucky health professionals calling on KFC, Kentucky’s fast food namesake, to commit to buying chicken solely from farms that use antibiotics only for the treatment of sick animals. The rapid spread of antibiotic resistance is quickly becoming public enemy number one among health experts worldwide, and Kentucky health professionals are urging KFC to join the fight to protect our life-saving medicines.

“Widespread, routine use of antibiotics where there is no cause is irresponsible and can promote the evolution of disease-resistant bacteria in the food supply,” said Dr. Anne Wallis, a reproductive epidemiologist based in Louisville. “In addition to regulation and policies prohibiting the injudicious use of antibiotics in livestock, we as citizens can choose to buy meat from suppliers and restaurants that buy only from producers who certify that they restrain the use of antibiotics,” Wallis said.

Although an increasing list of restaurant chains have committed to serving meat raised without routine antibiotics—including McDonald’s, Subway, Chick-fil-A, and Taco Bell—KFC lags behind.

“Kentucky health professionals are calling on the Colonel of fried chicken to step up and join the fight to protect antibiotics,” said Matthew Wellington Field Director, U.S. PIRG Antibiotics Program.

Roughly 70% of antibiotics sold in the U.S. are for use on livestock and poultry, and are often given to animals that aren’t sick. In most cases the drugs are routinely added to feed to make the animals grow faster and to prevent disease brought on by unsanitary conditions.

“Evidence has shown that the extensive agricultural use of antibiotics leads to antibiotic resistance,” said Lizeth Fowler MS, MPA, a public health professional based in Lexington. “My father was a practicing pediatrician for five decades and witnessed the dangerous decline in efficiency of various antimicrobial drugs within his practice. Restaurants can play an important role in protecting the efficacy of antibiotics by serving meat that is raised without the routine use of antibiotics and consumers will ultimately award this with their business,” Fowler said.

These Kentucky voices are part of a larger consensus in the medical community. According to a poll conducted by U.S. PIRG and Consumer Reports, 93% of doctors said they were concerned about the practice of using antibiotics on healthy animals for growth promotion and disease prevention.

“Kentucky health professionals are urging KFC to protect antibiotics for future generations in Kentucky and nationwide. It’s solid advice and provides an opportunity to demonstrate leadership on a critical public health issue. They should take it,” said Wellington.


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.