Wellington works for U.S. PIRG, a nonprofit that partnered with four other organizations in January 2016 to first urge KFC to reduce its use of medically important antibiotics in its meat supply chain.
On Friday, the Louisville-based fast-food chain issued a letter stating that it will stop purchasing chickens raised with antibiotics by the end of 2018. "This commitment from the nation's most iconic fast food chicken chain will have a major impact on the way the birds are raised in the USA and in the fight against the growing epidemic of drug-resistant infections".
There is some evidence that such actions can improve sales: McDonald's Corp. said sales of its Chicken McNuggets increased previous year, after the company said it removed antibiotics from the menu item. NRDC estimates that more than 40 percent of the US chicken industry is now either under an antibiotics stewardship commitment or is already using responsible practices, according to published statements and data from the WattPoultryUSA 2017 Survey. However, KFC claims that it is for the first time that a major national quick service restaurant chain in the USA has extended an antibiotics commitment beyond boneless chicken to its chicken-on-the-bone menu items.
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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.
"We recognize that it's a growing public health concern".
The NRDC, which has helped lead the push, estimated that 40 percent of the chicken industry is now either under an antibiotics commitment or is already using responsible practices. Brands Headquarters, almost 5,000 consumer calls into KFC's customer service line, and hundreds of social media actions directed at KFC (using #KFCsaveABX).
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Today, all KFC chicken (and most of its menu) is free of food dyes, and 100 percent of the menu will be free of food dyes by the end of 2017 (excluding beverages and third-party products).
KFC is among the largest buyers of chicken in the country, and estimates suggest that the company's move could create a positive rippling effect through the chicken industry, U.S. PIRG's release stated. KFC's new policy will likely move this percentage even higher. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least two million Americans are already infected with antibiotic-resistant infections every year, and at least 23,000 die as a direct result.
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