10 Things to Know About KFC, Chicken, and Antibiotics (2024)

KFC publishes very little information about its chicken suppliers or the antibiotic use practices on its suppliers’ farms, but what is publicly available indicates that some KFC suppliers employ practices that threaten public health. Below, we summarize the information linking KFC to chicken producers that are reported to use antibiotics. NRDC urges KFC and its suppliers to be transparent about antibiotic-use practices and commit to phasing out the use of antibiotics important for human medicine except when birds are sick—with verification by a third party.

  1. KFC has more restaurantsthan any other chicken chain and is the second-highest in sales. Chick-fil-A, which ranks first in sales, has pledged to only sell chicken raised without antibiotics by 2019. KFC can also make antibiotic-safe chicken available to millions of Americans.
  2. Unlike several of its competitors, including Chick-fil-A and McDonald's, KFC does not have a strong antibiotics stewardship policy for the companies that supply their restaurants with chicken. KFC recently saidit would complywith the weak U.S. Food and Drug Administration policy known as Guidance 213, but this has amajor loopholethat allows the routine use of antibiotics to continue.
  3. KFC was given an F on last year’s fast-food industry antibiotics scorecard released by NRDC and a number of leading public interest organizations (seeChain Reaction).
  4. According to aReuters exposé, Koch Foods, reported to be a KFC supplier, used medically important antibiotics, including virginiamycin, in the production of its chicken. TheU.S. Food and Drug AdministrationandWorld Health Organizationconsider virginiamycin “highly important” to human medicine.
  5. In addition toKoch Foods,Pilgrim’s Pride,Tyson,andCase Farmsare also reported to be KFC suppliers. Of these companies, only Tyson has ameaningful antibiotics stewardship policy.KFC has not disclosed the drug-use practices of its suppliers.
  6. U.S. chicken companies are not required to disclose what drugs they use, or how much of any drug they use, to the public or any government agency. Yet we know that drugs closely related to familiar and important human medicines, like tetracycline and penicillin,are approvedfor use in U.S. poultry production.
  7. The FDA'sNARMSprogram tests uncooked chicken products sold at retail outlets. Retail chicken from KFC suppliersPilgrim’s PrideandTysonwas tested in 2011, 2012, and 2013. Multidrug-resistant bacteria were found in these samples, which may have resulted from the routine use of antibiotics by these companies.*
  8. McDonald's,Chick-fil-A,Subway,Papa John’s, and, most recently, Taco Bellhave pledged to serve chicken raised without the routine use of antibiotics.
  9. The routine use of medically important antibiotics on farms contributes toincreasing rates of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, or "superbugs," that are reducing the effectiveness of these medicines and making infections in people increasingly difficult to treat.
  10. A whopping70 percent of all medically important antibioticsin the United States are sold for use on poultry and livestock, not people. These antibiotics are often given to animals to make themgrow faster and/or to prevent infectionsthat are likely to arise as a result of the stressful, unsanitary conditions that are the norm in industrialized farming systems.

*NRDC obtained 2011–2013 NARMS data through a Freedom of Information Act request. We plan to publish our full analysis.

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10 Things to Know About KFC, Chicken, and Antibiotics (2024)


What antibiotics are in KFC chicken? ›

The best and most laudable promises are those that are kept. Today, KFC announced that it fulfilled its April 2017 pledge to end the use of medically important antibiotics in its entire U.S. chicken supply.

Does chicken have a lot of antibiotics? ›

All meat, poultry and dairy foods sold in the U.S. are free of antibiotic residues, as required by federal law - whether or not the food is labeled “antibiotic-free.” Sometimes farm animals get sick, just like people. When that happens, farmers consult with their veterinarians to determine the best treatment options.

Why buy chicken without antibiotics? ›

There's a common belief that antibiotics are necessary for keeping chickens healthy and preventing illness. While this may be true to an extent, the overuse of antibiotics can lead to antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria, which can have serious implications for human health.

Why is it a problem to put antibiotics into chicken feed? ›

The use of antibiotics on chicken farms not only encourages chickens to grow unnaturally large, unnaturally fast—it also poses a grave threat to human health, in the form of growing antibiotic resistance.

Is KFC antibiotic free? ›

By law, all antibiotics are prescribed under veterinarian supervision and carefully administered to preserve the bird's health based on the specific illness. Since 2018, all chicken purchased by KFC U.S. are raised without antibiotics important to human medicine across its entire U.S. chicken supply chain.

Does chicken have hormones and antibiotics? ›

Despite what you may hear, no artificial or added hormones are used in the production of any poultry in the United States. Regulations of the Food & Drug Administration prohibit the use of such hormones. No such hormones are used. So any brand of chicken can be labeled “Raised without hormones” or something like that.

Which meat has the most antibiotics? ›

While turkeys are given antibiotics more intensively than other livestock in the U.S., the size of the industry is much smaller than beef and pork—making those two the most problematic in terms of antibiotic consumption.

What do antibiotics in chicken do? ›

Antibiotics may be used to prevent disease and increase feed efficiency. Before the bird can be slaughtered, a "withdrawal" period is required from the time antibiotics are administered. This ensures that no residues are present in the bird's system.

What chicken is antibiotic free? ›

Even if a chicken is given antibiotics in the course of its life to treat or prevent disease, all chicken you buy is technically “antibiotic free” – federal rules state that if any antibiotics are required, they must have cleared the birds' systems before they can leave the farm.

Does Chick-Fil-A use antibiotic free chicken? ›

Chick-fil-A Modifies Its 'No Antibiotic' Chicken Policy. The fast food restaurant chain will continue to bar the use of antibiotics used to treat people but will permit the use of animal antibiotics.

Does Chick-Fil-A use hormone chicken? ›

Our chicken is raised in barns (not cages), on farms in the United States, in accordance with our Animal Wellbeing Standards, and with No Antibiotics Important to Human Medicine (NAIHM). * No artificial or added hormones are used in the production of any poultry in the United States.

Does Walmart chicken have antibiotics? ›

The majority of the top 25 fast food and restaurant chains in the U.S. only serve chicken raised without the routine use of medically important antibiotics. In contrast, Walmart's policy does not explicitly prevent suppliers from using medically important antibiotics for disease prevention.

Are antibiotics illegal in chicken? ›

While the FDA has prohibited meat producers from using antibiotics to speed up growth— their original purpose in agriculture — some of the antibiotics that promote growth, like tylosin, are still allowed for disease prevention.

Is Chick Fil A changing their chicken? ›

(WJW) — Chick-fil-A has announced it is changing the chicken it serves at all of its restaurants this spring. The plan is to switch up the requirements for the kind of chicken purchased from the current No Antibiotics Ever (NAE) to No Antibiotics Important To Human Medicine (NAIHM).

When were antibiotics banned in chickens? ›

Campylobacter resistance

A primary reason for the 2005 ban on the use of fluoroquinolones in poultry production was an alarming increase in the rate of the fluoroquinolone resistance among Campylobacter bacteria.

What is the ingredient list for KFC chicken? ›

Original Recipe® Chicken Fresh chicken. Breaded in: Wheat flour, Salt, Monosodium glutamate, Spices, Dehydrated garlic, Modified milk ingredients, Dried egg white (Egg white, Baker's yeast, Citric acid). Cooked in: Canola oil (Dimethylpolysiloxane (Antifoaming agent), TBHQ). Contains: Wheat, Milk, Egg.

What is KFC chicken made of? ›

Yes, KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) uses real chicken in its menu offerings. KFC's signature fried chicken is made from pieces of chicken that are breaded and seasoned with a proprietary blend of herbs and spices before being fried. The company has consistently emphasized the use of real, quality chicken in its products.

Does Popeyes chicken use antibiotics? ›

Other fast food chains, including Burger King and Popeyes, also adhere to the rule of “no antibiotics important to human medicine”.

Does McDonald's chicken have antibiotics? ›

In 2015, McDonald's introduced an antibiotics policy in the U.S. to only source chicken raised without antibiotics important to human medicine, which we completed nearly a year ahead of schedule. Farmers still use ionophores, a class of antibiotics that are not prescribed to people, to help keep chickens healthy.

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