As KFC changes policy, Yum shareholders pull proposal on cutting antibiotics

KFC to stop using chickens raised with human antibiotics

KFC said it plans to stop serving chicken raised with antibiotics important to human health.

"We recognize that KFC had to choose between business as usual with their chicken suppliers or demanding that they raise chickens in a manner that doesn't hasten the end of antibiotics", said Wellington. The move is a response to changing customer preferences, said KFC U.S. President Kevin Hochman, and required collaboration among 2,000 farms.

"Antibiotics should only be used to treat disease and not wasted on healthy livestock to make them grow faster or to compensate for filthy conditions on factory farms", Halloran said.

There is some evidence that such actions can improve sales: McDonald's Corp. said sales of its Chicken McNuggets increased past year, after the company said it removed antibiotics from the menu item.

KFC is the last of the big three chicken restaurants to join the fight against the rise of unsafe antibiotic-resistant bacteria known as superbugs. And KFC has been profiled in the annual "Chain Reaction" antibiotics scorecard published by NRDC and other advocacy groups, grading top restaurant chains on their antibiotics policies.

Two years ago, California poultry producer Foster Farms began eliminating antibiotics from the chicken it sells at supermarkets, following similar steps by fellow poultry giant Perdue, along with restaurant chains McDonald's, Chick-fil-A, Chipotle and Panera, among others.

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"This announcement is a win for anybody who might someday depend on antibiotics to get well or even save their lives - i.e. everybody", consumer group antibiotics program director Matthew Wellington said in a press release.

The announcement comes in response to health advocates who've long urged the company to reconsider its antibiotic policies, warning KFC that the life-saving medicines need to be preserved. The brand has also made recent commitments to ensure all core products are free of artificial colors and flavors by 2018 and make its menu free of food dyes by this year, with the exception of beverages and third-party products.

A shareholder resolution filed by the non-profit group As You Sow with KFC outlined the business risks involved in companies that are not keeping pace with growing consumer concern around antibiotic overuse. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.

For one thing, KFC is a big buyer - it's the largest chicken-on-the-bone quick-service chain in the country.

The CDC estimates that 23,000 people die each year from 17 types of antibiotic-resistant infections and that an additional 15,000 die from a pathogen linked to long-term antibiotic use.

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