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More Than 350,000 Urge KFC to Prevent Abuse of Antibiotics in Its Chicken Supply
KFC stays silent on antibiotics, continues to lag behind other restaurant chains
LOUISVILLE, KY (August 10, 2016) — Today, representatives from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG), the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Food Animals Concern Trust (FACT) will deliver more than 350,000 petitions from consumers nationwide to Kentucky Fried Chicken’s (KFC) headquarters in Louisville, while calling on the nation’s largest fried chicken chain to end the routine use of antibiotics by chicken producers in its supply chain. The petition signatures were also collected by the Center for Science in the Public Interest and CREDO Action.
Last week, McDonald’s made good on their promise to end reliance on antibiotics important to human medicine in their entire chicken supply. Just a few days later, Wendy’s joined the list of restaurants that have pledged to eliminate the use of antibiotics that are important in human medicine in their chicken supply. In addition to McDonald’s, the list includes KFC’s main competitor Chick-fil-A, Subway, Papa John’s, KFC’s sister restaurant Taco Bell and others.
“In a moment when more and more restaurant chains are pledging to get medically-important antibiotics out of their chicken supply, KFC’s silence is deafening,” said Lena Brook, Food Policy Advocate with the NRDC. “Antibiotics are losing their effectiveness and time is running out to protect people from superbugs. KFC is lagging woefully behind in the efforts to protect these miracle drugs.”
Grassroots support for ending the abusive use of antibiotics in livestock and poultry production in the U.S. has never been stronger. “We are seeing tremendous engagement from millennials, college students, health professionals and eaters everywhere who are frustrated over the lack of policy progress on the pressing public health issue of antibiotics resistance,” said Bill Wenzel, Antibiotics Program Director for U.S. PIRG. “These folks are concerned and knowledgeable and they vote with their pocketbooks.”
Through these petitions, consumers are asking KFC to commit to only serve chicken grown without the routine use of medically important antibiotics. “Our groups believe that poultry producers should rely on improved husbandry and living conditions to keep chickens healthy, not antibiotics. These lifesaving drugs should be used only when animals are sick,” said Steven Roach, Food Safety Program Director with the Food Animals Concern Trust.
Investors are also speaking up about their concerns regarding the public health crisis of antibiotic resistance. Yesterday, groups filed a shareholder proposal urging KFC parent company Yum! Brands to end routine antibiotics use in its global meat and poultry supply chain. KFC’s lack of action on antibiotics is not only bad for public health, it is also bad for business. In January 2016, nearly 90 organizations sent a letter to Yum! Brands asking the company to fix its weak approach to antibiotics use in its poultry supply.
“These petitions show the public strongly supports getting medically important antibiotics out of food production uses. KFC buys more chicken than any other restaurant. If KFC commits to serve chicken raised without routine use of antibiotics, that would have a major impact on efforts to keep antibiotics effective for human health,” said David Plunkett, Senior Staff Attorney, Food Safety Program, Center for Science in the Public Interest.
More than 70 percent of medically important antibiotics in the United States are sold for use on livestock and poultry. More than 96 percent of those drugs are routinely distributed in feed or water—often to animals that are not sick to speed up growth and help animals survive crowded and unsanitary conditions on industrial farms.
This practice contributes to the growing epidemic of drug-resistant infections in humans. Leading medical experts warn that we must stop overuse of antibiotics in human medicine and animal agriculture, or else the life-saving drugs we rely on to treat common infections and enable medical procedures could increasingly stop working.
Conservatively, at least 2 million Americans are already infected with antibiotic-resistant infections every year, and at least 23,000 die as a direct result, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
U.S. Public Interest Research Group (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.
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 2 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City; Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles; San Francisco; Chicago; Bozeman, Montana; and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.
Food Animals Concern Trust is a national nonprofit organization based in Chicago that promotes humane and healthy farms through science-based advocacy, consumer education, and support for humane farmers. Our mission is to improve the welfare of food producing animals, broaden opportunities for humane farmers, and address the public health problems that come from the production of meat, milk, and eggs. FACT has advocated eliminating the over-use of antibiotics in food animals for over 20 years.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest is a nonprofit health-advocacy group based in Washington, D.C., that focuses on nutrition and food safety. CSPI is supported largely by the subscribers to its Nutrition Action Healthletter and by foundation grants.
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