Washington, DC - Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy division of Consumer Reports, praised McDonald’s for meeting its pledge ahead of schedule to stop selling chicken that has been raised on a diet of medically important antibiotics.
The consumer group urged Kentucky Fried Chicken and other fast food chains to move away from meat and poultry suppliers that overuse antibiotics, a practice that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned is making these drugs less effective for treating disease in people.
“The reckless overuse of these critical medications on healthy livestock is contributing to our antibiotics resistance crisis,” said Jean Halloran, Director of Food Policy Initiatives for Consumers Union. “McDonald’s has shown that it’s possible to eliminate this practice on a large scale while still meeting its supply needs. We urge Kentucky Fried Chicken and other fast food restaurants to follow McDonald’s lead and make the same commitment to public health.”
McDonald’s had previously committed to meeting its goal by March 2017, but announced today that it had already succeeded in doing so. Chik-fil-A, which has the most sales of any chicken chain, has pledged to stop supplying its restaurants with poultry raised on antibiotics by 2019.
Last year, Consumers Union joined NRDC, PIRG and eighty other public interest groups to call on YUM! Brands, which includes Kentucky Fried Chicken, to stop allowing routine antibiotics use among its meat and poultry suppliers. KFC has the largest number of restaurants than any chicken chain and is the second highest in sales.
Some 80 percent of all antibiotics sold in the U.S. are used not on humans but on animals. These antibiotics are regularly fed to healthy animals like cows, pigs, and poultry to make them grow faster and to prevent disease in often crowded and unsanitary conditions on today’s industrial farms. When antibiotics are used on the farm, the bugs that are vulnerable to them tend to be killed off, leaving behind “superbugs” that are resistant to antibiotics. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria can spread from the farm to our communities via meat and poultry, farmworkers, and through the air, soil, and water. As antibiotic resistance increases, the medications used to treat infections in people become less effective.
Consumers Union is the public policy and advocacy division of Consumer Reports. Consumers Union works for health reform, food and product safety, financial reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace. Consumer Reports is the world’s largest independent product-testing organization. Using its more than 50 labs, auto test center, and survey research center, the nonprofit rates thousands of products and services annually. Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports has over 8 million subscribers to its magazine, website, and other publications.