The Natural Resources Defense Council’s (NRDC) latest nation-wide campaign is calling on American fast-food chain Kentucky Fried Chicken to phase out buying chickens that are routinely fed antibiotics. A chicken mascot named Auntie Biotic is the voice of the campaign and stars in a number of videos aimed at increasing awareness of the effects of antibiotic overuse and misuse in livestock.
NRDC notes that competing fast-food chains like McDonald’s, Chick-fil-A, Subway, and KFC’s sister company, Taco Bell, have all committed to serving meat produced without the routine use of antibiotics. The organization believes that as the largest fast-food chicken restaurant in the United States, KFC is falling behind due to its lack of initiative in reforming its antibiotics policies.
According to NRDC, more than 70 percent of medically important antibiotics in the U.S. are sold for use on livestock and poultry instead of on humans, and they are frequently administered to healthy animals to promote rapid growth and prevent disease in the congested and unsanitary conditions of industrial farms.
NRDC further notes that overuse of antibiotics in meat production also contributes to the growing epidemic of drug-resistant infections in humans, which threatens to weaken the effectiveness of antibiotics in treating ailments like pneumonia, urinary tract infections, strep throat, etc. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that at least two million Americans catch antibiotic-resistant infections every year.
While KFC’s website states the company’s intention to comply with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s policy on eliminating the use of growth-promoting antibiotics, NRDC argues the policy contains a loophole that fails to make significant changes in current antibiotics malpractices.
Through the Auntie Biotic campaign and petition, NRDC seeks to influence KFC and its chicken suppliers to set clear and transparent targets to end routine use of antibiotics on their animals, and to reserve the drugs for sick animals only. The message was also projected on billboards near KFC’s headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky, for the duration of a local Yum! Brands’ shareholder meeting.
According to NRDC’s food policy advocate Lena Brook, “KFC has an opportunity and responsibility to help stem the growing epidemic of drug-resistant infections by cleaning up its antibiotics policies.”
NRDC states that the campaign adds to earlier efforts—carried out by groups such as Center for Science in the Public Interest, Consumers International, Food Animal Concerns Trust, and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group—that have been trying to persuade KFC to reconsider its antibiotics policy since early 2016.
In partnership with other allied organizations, NRDC has also previously secured commitments from Subway, poultry producer Foster Farms, and Yum! Brands’ restaurant Taco Bell to end the sourcing of animals that are routinely fed antibiotics.
NRDC’s petition addressed to KFC CEO Roger Eaton can be found here.
For more info, please visit the campaign website.