Skip to main content
Anya Vanecek's picture

Today MomsRising and more than 80 environmental, consumer, food, and other public interest groups publicly called on the executives of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) to serve chicken raised without the routine use of antibiotics.

The focus on KFC marks the next step in a marketplace initiative driven by consumers to end the abusive use of antibiotics in livestock and poultry production. Roughly 70% of medically-important antibiotics sold in the U.S. are for use on livestock and poultry, frequently given to animals that aren’t sick. This practice is used to promote growth and prevent disease, but it’s also a significant contributor to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, or ‘superbugs.’

“Increasingly, health conscious consumers are voting with their voices and their dollars to favor restaurants committed to purchasing meat not raised on our life-saving medicines,” said Bill Wenzel, Antibiotics Program Director of U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund (PIRG).  “The pressure that they have exerted on fast food chains has translated to changes in on-farm antibiotic use, particularly among poultry producers.”

Consumer pressure has been successful in persuading fast food chains to serve meat that has not been raised on routine antibiotics  These actions put pressure on poultry and livestock producers who supply those chains to end the practice of administering antibiotics routinely for growth promotion and disease prevention to animals that aren’t sick.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates, more than 2 million Americans are sickened by bacteria that are resistant to one or more antibiotics per year, and more than 23,000 die. The CDC and other public health experts have highlighted antibiotic overuse on farm animal as a contributor to the problem.

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 poultry production.  This success was followed by Subway’s announcement in October to phase out the use of antibiotics in all the meat they served—poultry, beef and pork—by 2025.  These companies joined a long list of action takers, such as Chick-fil-A, Noodles & Company, Elevation Burger, Panera Bread and others that have voluntarily eliminated the routine use of antibiotics in their supply chain.

In addition, to the public letter, U.S. PIRG Education Fund and many of its state PIRG affiliates, held events across the country to announce a consumer campaign calling on KFC, the world’s largest chain of fried chicken restaurants, to stop selling chicken produced with the routine use of antibiotics. Consumer advocates and volunteers at the event educated people about the dangers of antibiotic resistant bacteria, and asked passersby to take a photo posing with signs that read “I’m a KFC lover, but I’m hungry for chicken raised without antibiotics,” among other slogans. The photos were tweeted @KFC with #KFCsaveABX.

“Consumers and public health experts have placed an order to KFC for a bucket of chicken raised without routine antibiotics,” said Matt Wellington, U.S.PIRG Education Fund Antibiotics Field Director. “Kentucky Fried Chicken should serve up a strong antibiotics policy in 2016 that sets the stage for an industry wide shift."

MomsRising is joined by Andrew Gunther, Executive Director, A Greener World | Nancy Sudak, Co-CEO, Academy of Integrative Health & Medicine | Sean Lucan, Associate Professor, Albert Einstein College of Medicine | Robyn O’Brien, Founder/Executive Director, AllergyKids Foundation | Emma Rose, Campaign/Lobbying/Communications Coordinator, Alliance to Save our Antibiotics | Lance Price, PhD, Director, Antibiotic Resistance Action Center, George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health | Diane Brown, Executive Director, Arizona PIRG | Harrison C. Spencer, MD, President /CEO, Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health | Jena Price, Legislative Director, California League of Conservation Voters | Rev. Dr. Rick Schlosser, Executive Director, California Church IMPACT | Lynn Silver, Senior Advisor,California Project LEAN | Adele Amodeo, Executive Director, California Public Health Association – North | Emily Rusch, Executive Director, CalPIRG | Robert Gronski, Policy Coordinator, Catholic Rural Life | Stephanie Feldstein, Population & Sustainability Director, Center for Biological Diversity | Charles Margulis, Media Director, Center for Environmental Health | Rebecca Spector, West Coast Director, Center for Food Safety | Patricia Buck, Founder and Executive Director, Center for Foodborne Illness Research & Prevention | Michael Jacobson, PhD, President, Center for Science in the Public Interest | Brent Newell, Legal Director, Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment | Miriam Gordon, California Director,Clean Water Action | Evan Preston, Director, ConnPIRG | Amanda Long, Director General,Consumers International | Jean Halloran, Director of Food Policy Initiatives, Consumers Union | Danny Katz, Director, CoPIRG | Rachelle Wenger, Director, Public Policy & Community Advocacy, Dignity Health | Jim Slama, President, FamilyFarmed  | Aaron Gross, Founder and CEO, Farm Forward | Gene Baur, President, Farm Sanctuary | Patty Lovera, Assistant Director,Food and Water Watch | Steve Roach, Food Safety Program Director, Food Animals Concern Trust | Joann Lo, Executive Director, Food Chain Workers Alliance | Dave Murphy, Founder/Executive Director, Food Democracy Now! | Melinda Hemmelgarn, Host, Food Sleuth Radio | Kari Hamerschlag, Senior Program Manager, Food and Technology Program, Friends of the Earth | Carrie Balkcom, Executive Director, Global Animal Partnership | Dan Rosenthal, Founder, Green Chicago Restaurant Coalition | Tim Reed, Executive Director, Health Action International | Stacia Clinton, National Program Director, Health Care Without Harm | Abe Scarr, Director, Illinois PIRG | Shefali Sharma, Director, Agricultural Commodities and Globalization, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy | Jamie Harvie, Executive Director,Institute for a Sustainable Future | Bob Martin, Director of Food System Policy, Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future | Richard Wood, Steering Committee Chair, Keep Antibiotics Working | Nancy Utesch, Founder & Farmer, Kewaunee CARES | Brent Wilkes, National Executive Director, League of United Latin American Citizens | Ted Quaday, Executive Director, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association | Emily Scarr, Director,Maryland PIRG | Janet Domenitz, Executive Director, MASSPIRG | Jane L. Finn, Chief Operating Officer, Michigan Antibiotic Resistance Reduction Coalition | Jeanine Thomas, President, MRSA Survivors Network | Rudy Arredondo, President/CEO/Founder, National Latino Farmers & Ranchers Trade Association | Lena Brook, Food Policy Advocate, Natural Resources Defense Council | Dan Bensonoff, Policy Director, NOFA – MASS | Maddie Monty, Policy Advisor, NOFA – VT | Steve Gilman, Policy Coordinator, NOFA – IC | Bill Duesing, Organic Advocate, NOFA – CT | Elizabeth Henderson, Policy Committee Co-Chair, NOFA- NY | David Rosenfeld, Director, OSPIRG | Judy Hatcher, Executive Director, Pesticide Action Network | Catherine Thomasson, MD, President,Physicians for Social Responsibility | Anna Zorzet, Coordinator, ReAct Europe | Michael Dimock, President, Roots of Change | Sejal Choksi-Chugh, Executive Director & BayKeeper, San Francisco BayKeeper | Steve Heilig, Associate Executive Director, San Francisco Medical Society | Toni Liquori, Founder/Executive Director, School Food Focus | Ted Schettler MD, MPH, Science Director, Science and Environmental Health Network | Brenda Ruiz, Policy Committee Chair, Slow Food California | Richard McCarthy, Executive Director, Slow Food USA | Emily Heil, Policy Chair, Society of Infectious Disease Pharmacists | Cherise Chartwell, MPH, President, Southern California Public Health Association | Darya Rose, PhD, Founder, | Kyle Tafuri, Sustainability Advisor, The Deirdre Imus EnvironmentalHealth Center | VaniHari, Founder, | Gary Ruskin, Co-Founder/Co-Director, U.S. Right to Know | Merith Basey MSc, Executive Director, North America, Universities Allied for Essential Medicines | Tracy Sides, Founder, Urban Oasis | Bill Wenzel, Antibiotics Program Director, U.S. PIRG | Bruce Speight, Director, WashPIRG | Buffalo Bruce, Staff Ecologist, Western Nebraska Resources Council | Peter Skopec, Director,WisPIRG

The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of strongly encourages our readers to post comments in response to blog posts. We value diversity of opinions and perspectives. Our goals for this space are to be educational, thought-provoking, and respectful. So we actively moderate comments and we reserve the right to edit or remove comments that undermine these goals. Thanks!