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KFC sets timeline for eliminating antibiotics important to human medicine

Largest U.S. chicken QSR chain to extend antibiotics commitment.

Kentucky Fried Chicken announced April 7 that, by the end of 2018, all chicken purchased by KFC U.S. will be raised without antibiotics important to human medicine. The move marks the first time a major national quick service restaurant (QSR) chain in the U.S. has extended an antibiotics commitment beyond boneless chicken to its chicken-on-the-bone menu items.

"We're constantly working to meet the changing preferences of our customers, while ensuring we deliver on the value they expect from KFC. Offering chicken raised without medically important antibiotics is the next step in that journey," said Kevin Hochman, president and chief concept officer for KFC U.S. "Making this change was complex and took a lot of planning. It required close collaboration with more than 2,000 farms, most of them family-owned and managed, in more than a dozen U.S. states where they raise our chickens."

Vijay Sukumar, chief food innovation officer for KFC U.S., said eliminating medically important antibiotics from the chicken served in its U.S. restaurants, while keeping the health and well-being of the flocks in mind, was important in the company’s decision to make this commitment. "To extend our commitment beyond our boneless menu items to all of our chicken required detailed and thoughtful planning over the past year, including utilizing the USDA's Process Verified program to ensure our suppliers can meet our requirements. We're proud to make a commitment this expansive and believe this change will aid in shifting the rest of the industry."     

In addition to its antibiotics pledge, the brand has made recent commitments that:

  • By the end of 2018, all core products will be free of artificial colors and flavors.
  • Today, all KFC chicken (and most of its menu) is free of food dyes, and 100% of the menu will be free of food dyes by the end of 2017 (excluding beverages and third-party products).

Today’s announcement is the latest step in the brand's U.S. turnaround, which focused on returning to its roots and providing finger lickin' good chicken in every bucket, boxed meal and sandwich, the company said. During what it calls a “Re-Colonelization of KFC,” the brand committed to simplifying operations in its restaurants, investing more than 100,000 hours to re-train its team members, bringing the Colonel back in its advertising, remodeling more than 3,000 restaurants over a three-year period, and inviting America to come back and experience the brand they remembered. These efforts have contributed to delivering 10 straight quarters of same store sales growth and bringing millions of customers back into the brand.

"This is another major milestone in our Re-Colonelization efforts," said Hochman. "We know our customers expect the very best fried chicken at a great value. I am especially proud that we are able to make this change without passing the cost along to our guests."

The KFC U.S. antibiotics commitment is also part of its parent company Yum! Brands' commitment to improve sustainable sourcing and food production, including its global position on Good Antimicrobial Stewardship.

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