The chain, which has been the bane of some medical and animal rights groups for its resistance to this move, said its announcement today marks the first time a major national U.S. QSR chain has committed to using hens raised this way for bone-in chicken. 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. "To extend our commitment beyond our boneless menu items to all of our chicken required detailed and thoughtful planning over the past year, including utilizing the USDA's Process Verified program to ensure our suppliers can meet our requirements".
The parent company of KFC, Yum! Brands Headquarters, almost 5,000 consumer calls into KFC's customer service line, and hundreds of social media actions directed at KFC (using #KFCsaveABX).
Reuters reported 70 percent of antibiotics are sold for use in meat and dairy production. The drugs are often given routinely to animals that aren't sick to promote growth and prevent disease that can be common in crowded, unsanitary conditions.
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. The letter sent to Yum!
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.
KFC said it its working with more than 2,000 poultry farms around the U.S.to make the change. Brands in January 2016 cited these health concerns as key reasons for the restaurant company to phase out routine antibiotic use in their supply chain.
McDonald's now serves 100% antibiotic-free chicken, but the company hasn't made any commitments for its beef or pork.
The vast majority of all antibiotics used in the United States now are given not to people, but to farm animals. The S&P 500 index is up 15.5% for the last 12 months.
The announcement follows a national call to action launched by the Natural Resources Defense Council almost a year ago that urged the company to improve its antibiotics policies. "We can not continue to abuse antibiotics in our animal farm practices without expecting further increases in antibiotic resistance".