April 7, 2017
As You Sow Withdraws Proposal; Commends KFC’s New
U.S. Policy Restricting Antibiotic Use
New Policy Will Help Combat Antibiotic Resistance
Oakland, CALIF – KFC U.S. today announced its decision to, by the end of 2018, only purchase chicken raised without antibiotics important to human medicine, a sustainability milestone for one of the world's largest restaurant chains.
Last August, As You Sow, an environmental health watchdog group, filed a shareholder proposal with Yum! Brands (parent company of KFC) requesting action on this issue. The proposal, which was co-filed by members of ICCR, was recently withdrawn following productive discussions with the company on this topic.
Shareholders of meat producers and restaurant companies have been increasingly concerned about companies’ responsibility to help combat growing antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic use in livestock can contribute to the development of antibiotic resistance in bacteria that may be transferred to humans, thereby reducing the effectiveness of antibiotics for treating human disease. According to the CDC, infections by bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics cause at least 2 million illnesses each year in the United States alone.
“Shareholders welcome KFC U.S.’s announcement,” said Austin Wilson, Environmental Health Program Manager at As You Sow. “This policy is good news for modern medicine and for long-term shareholder value.”
The restaurant industry has begun adopting policies restricting antibiotic use in poultry. KFC U.S.’s new policy is equivalent to commitments made by Taco Bell (another Yum! Brands subsidiary), McDonald’s, and Wendy’s. Chipotle serves only chicken raised without nontherapeutic antibiotic use. Panera Bread has gone further, serving chicken raised without any antibiotics and Chick-fil-A has made a similar commitment by 2019.
Sanderson Farms is a notable exception on the chicken supplier side; it remains the only large producer that has not committed to limit use of medically important antibiotics. Competitor Perdue Farms raises 95% of its chickens without any antibiotics, and Tyson Foods plans to eliminate medically important antibiotic use in its chickens by September 2017. As You Sow’s shareholder proposal with Sanderson Farms was supported by 30% of shareholders in January 2017 – a record for a proposal addressing antibiotic resistance.