"By the end of 2018, all chicken purchased by KFC in the USA will be raised without antibiotics important to human medicine", KFC announced in a statement Friday.
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. Officials have said that it can lead to germs becoming resistant to drugs, making antibiotics no longer effective in treating some illnesses in humans.
There is some evidence that such actions can improve sales: McDonald's Corp. said sales of its Chicken McNuggets increased a year ago, after the company said it removed antibiotics from the menu item.
The fried chicken company said their suppliers may still use would use antibiotics specific to animals to treat diseases in the chickens, according to the Associated Press.
"To extend our [antibiotics] commitment beyond our boneless menu items to include all of our chicken required detailed and thoughtful planning over the past year, including utilizing the USDA's Process Verified program to ensure our suppliers can meet our requirements", Vijay Sukumar, chief food innovation officer for KFC U.S., said in a statement. Chick-fil-A has said that by 2019 it will only serve chicken that has never been given any antibiotics.
"This announcement is a win for anybody who might someday depend on antibiotics to get well or even save their lives - i.e. everybody", Wellington added.
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"We recognize that it's a growing public health concern".
Given its stature, KFC had been the focus of several antibiotic reduction campaigns by consumer, health and environment groups, including U.S. PIRG, as well as from a coalition of British and U.S. shareholders with more than $2 trillion in assets under management.
KFC's antibiotic policy is set on a country-by-country basis, according to Yum!
For one thing, KFC is a big buyer - it's the largest chicken-on-the-bone quick-service chain in the country. The group endorses KFC's move. Hochman says growers will have to raise more chickens in order to meet KFC's size demands without the antibiotics.
"It's great news for fried chicken lovers, and most importantly it's great news for public health", Brook said.
Antibiotics in chicken products can result in the growth of resistant bacteria and if chicken is wrongly prepared, consumers run the risk of infection and serious illness.