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.
Many medical scientists regard farm use of drugs that treat human infections as particularly unsafe because the practice risks promoting superbugs that can defeat life-saving human antibiotics.
"This announcement is a win for anybody who might someday depend on antibiotics to get well or even save their lives - i.e. everybody", said Matthew Wellington, Program Director for U.S. PIRG's Antibiotics Program.
"We recognize that it's a growing public health concern", Kevin Hochman, KFC president told Reuters. "It's time for all fast-food restaurants to help ensure antibiotics keep working by rejecting meat and poultry suppliers who misuse these vital drugs".
KFC is the second-biggest USA chicken chain by sales after privately held Chick-fil-A.
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The move by the giant fast-food chicken chain comes after years of pressure from food safety and consumer advocacy groups, and two years after other industry leaders such as McDonald's, Chick-fil-A, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell made similar pledges to phase out the use of products from animals treated with the antibiotics - a practice linked to the rise of "super bug" pathogens that are resistant to multiple drugs. As you've probably heard by now, using antibiotics like these in food is unsafe because it builds up our immunity to the drugs, making them less effective in fighting disease when we really need them. KFC's commitment is a significant addition to this progress because it could push the US chicken industry over the threshold for better antibiotic stewardship. Officials say it can lead to germs becoming resistant to drugs, making antibiotics no longer effective in treating some illnesses in humans. The company said 100-percent of its menu, excluding beverages and third-party products, would be free of food dyes by the end of the year. KFC's antibiotic policy is set on a country-by-country basis, he added.
"It's great news for fried chicken lovers, and most importantly it's great news for public health", Brook said.
For one thing, KFC is a big buyer - it's the largest chicken-on-the-bone quick-service chain in the country.
The overuse breeds antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which can spread to people through various pathways, the release stated.
At least some of KFC suppliers are already well on their way to compliance.