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Antibiotic-Free Chicken on Menu at KFC

By 2019, all chicken ordered at KFC will be raised antibiotic-free. (Mike Mozart/Flickr)
By 2019, all chicken ordered at KFC will be raised antibiotic-free. (Mike Mozart/Flickr)
April 17, 2017

SEATTLE – Consumer and public health advocates are applauding the latest pledge by a fast food chain to phase out its use of chickens raised on antibiotics.

Kentucky Fried Chicken has announced that by the end of 2018, all chicken purchased by the company will be raised without having received any of the antibiotics that are important to human medicine.

Matthew Wellington, field director of the National Antibiotics Program for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), says the move makes sense, given the global concern about the rise of antibiotic-resistant superbugs.

"Consumers across the country should certainly be happy that KFC, a major actor in the marketplace, is moving away from the use of antibiotics,” he states. “It's a big step forward for public health."

Farmers use antibiotics to grow chickens faster and prevent diseases in crowded conditions. Reuters has reported that some poultry producers are turning to sanitizing wipes and bacteria-reducing fog to keep birds healthy.

Wellington says PIRG has been active with other consumer groups in asking national chains to end their use of poultry raised with antibiotics, but he says KFC's move is in an entirely different league.

"Their size – they're one of the biggest chicken buyers in the country – their commitment could actually lead to a majority of the U.S. chicken industry no longer raising chickens with medically important antibiotic use, or the routine use of those drugs,” he states. “And that would be a major shift."

Currently, Wellington says about 70 percent of the medically important antibiotics sold in the U.S. are purchased for use on livestock and poultry.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - WA