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Boston: Taco Bell just announced that it will no longer serve chicken raised on medically important antibiotics in U.S. locations starting in 2017. The announcement comes amid widespread consumer demand and concern from the medical community over the overuse of antibiotics on livestock and poultry. Taco Bell’s announcement will put major market pressure on the meat industry to stop overusing antibiotics and should push its partner brands KFC and Pizza Hut to have stronger commitments as well.
“We’ll certainly ‘live más’ with Taco Bell’s antibiotics commitment, it’s good for business and even better for public health,” said Deirdre Cummings, Legislative Director, MASSPIRG.
KFC’s antibiotics policy was also included in the release, but as written it is not as protective of public health as Taco Bell’s policy. The KFC policy continues to allow the routine use of antibiotics on chickens that aren’t sick as a prophylactic against disease. Such routine use breeds antibiotic resistant bacteria that threaten public health.
Consumers and public health experts are increasingly concerned about the overuse of antibiotics on livestock and poultry because it contributes to antibiotic resistant bacteria that threaten public health.
Last year McDonald’s announced that it will no longer serve chicken raised on medically important antibiotics, and Tyson Foods, a major chicken producer and a supplier to McDonald’s followed suit. Months later Subway announced a transition away from all meat raised on antibiotics. Both chains cited consumer demand as the driving force behind the changes.
“Taco Bell’s commitment to save antibiotics makes it even clearer—this is not a fad, it’s an industry wide shift to protect public health, and more restaurants like KFC should get on board,” said Cummings.
MASSPIRG has helped build a coalition of over 20,000 doctors, nurses, and other health professionals calling for an end to the overuse of antibiotics on livestock and poultry. Taco Bell’s announcement is one more step in the right direction to help protect life-saving medicines.
“KFC, Taco Bell’s sister brand, should follow this example and serve up a bucket of original recipe chicken raised without routine antibiotics,” said Cummings.
Antibiotic resistant infections kill 23,000 Americans, and sicken 2 million every year according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most large industrial farms administer antibiotics—up to 70% of antibiotics sold in the U.S. are used on livestock and poultry—on a routine basis to animals that often aren’t sick to promote growth and prevent disease brought on by unsanitary production practices. That overuse breeds antibiotic resistant bacteria that rapidly multiply and spread off of farms via contaminated meat, direct human to animal contact, and through the air, water, and soil.
Taco Bell’s announcement comes after MASSPIRG and 80 other organizations sent a letter in January to Taco Bell’s parent company, Yum! Brands, urging the company to commit to a strong antibiotics policy.
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