As You Sow Files Proposal with Yum! Brands on Antibiotics Misuse
Oakland, CALIF – Shareholders filed a proposal today with Yum! Brands (KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell), requesting that it quickly phase-out harmful antibiotic use in its meat products.
Shareholders of meat producers and restaurant companies have been increasingly concerned with companies’ role in creating antibiotic-resistant Superbugs. In the U.S., approximately 70% of medically important antibiotics are fed to livestock; many of these antibiotics are used to make animals grow faster or to prevent sickness due to extreme and unhealthy living conditions. Experts agree that the overuse and misuse of these life-saving drugs is contributing to the rise of antibiotic-resistance Superbugs, which cause infections in humans that are not treatable by certain (or any) antibiotics.
“Yum! Brands’ silence in the face of this looming antibiotic resistance problem is bad for business,” said Austin Wilson, Environmental Health Program Manager. “The future is in healthy and sustainable food. Only 2 in 5 millennials have ever tried KFC; they are the consumers that care most about sustainable food. Animals kept alive or forced to grow by misusing antibiotics are not part of sustainable food.”
Antibiotic use in livestock can be reduced without significant costs to producers by creating better living conditions, increasing cleanliness, and using vaccinations. Denmark, one of the world’s leading pork exporters, banned non-therapeutic antibiotic use in pigs over 15 years ago.
In January, 82 advocacy organizations sent a public letter to Yum! Brands, requesting the company “make a strong, definitive public commitment on antibiotic stewardship.” A recent scorecard on antibiotics policies gave all three of Yum’s brands “F’s”, and the company has become the subject of unfavorable press.
Many of Yum! Brands’ competitors have taken action. McDonald’s recently phased out medically important antibiotics in its U.S. chickens. Panera Bread and Chipotle Mexican Grill already prohibit non-therapeutic antibiotic use in their meat supply chains.
Shareholder advocacy leverages the power of stock ownership in publicly-traded companies to promote environmental, social, and governance change that drives long-term profitability.