KFC to stop using chickens raised with human antibiotics
Company president says KFC recognizes 'growing public health concern' of antibiotic resistance
KFC said Friday that it will stop serving chickens raised with certain antibiotics.
The fried chicken chain said the change will be completed by the end of next year at its more than 4,000 restaurants in the U.S.
It is working with more than 2,000 farms around the country to stop using antibiotics important to human medicine. Antibiotics specific to animals may still be used to treat diseases in the chickens, KFC said.
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Meat producers give animals antibiotics to make them grow faster and prevent illness, a practice that has become a public health issue. Officials have said that it can lead to germs becoming resistant to drugs, making antibiotics no longer effective in treating some illnesses in humans.
"We recognize that it's a growing public health concern," KFC U.S. President Kevin Hochman told Reuters.
"This is something that's important to many of our customers and it's something we need to do to show relevance and modernity within our brand," Hochman said.
KFC's rivals have already announced plans to curb their use of chickens raised with antibiotics. Chick-fil-A has said that by 2019 it will only serve chicken that has never been given any antibiotics. And McDonald's Corp. has stopped using chickens raised with antibiotics important to human medicine for its McNuggets.
KFC, owned by Louisville, Kentucky-based Yum Brands Inc., said it is also in the process of removing artificial colours and flavours from certain menu items by the end of 2018.
The policy applies only to KFC in the United States and its 4,200 restaurants supplied by some 2,000 domestic chicken farms, said Hochman. KFC's antibiotic policy is set on a country-by-country basis, he added.
Vijay Sukumar, chief food innovation officer for KFC U.S., said the new policy applies throughout the bird's full life cycle, which includes the hatchery where chicks are sometimes injected with antibiotics while still in the shell.
Yum spun off its KFC-dominated China division in November.
With files from Reuters