Pizza Hut Makes Progress on Reducing Antibiotics Use

Credit: USDA/Lance Cheung

But KFC Is Getting Left Behind

Yesterday, Yum! Brands, Pizza Hut’s parent company announced the pizza giant will eliminate antibiotics important to human medicine in raising the chicken it serves on pizza, beginning in March 2017.  

Thumbs up and thanks from the antibiotics team here at NRDC! Public, concrete commitments like this help build momentum for antibiotic stewardship across the industry. We hope Pizza  Hut extends the policy to any remaining chicken items on its menus, and to other meats.

The use of antibiotics in production of food animals contributes to rising rates of antibiotic resistance. When these drugs are used again and again, some bacteria become resistant, multiply and spread. Most of the antibiotics important to human medicine are also used in the livestock industry, often to help animals survive crowded, stressful, unsanitary living conditions. Pressure to curb the industry’s drug habit likely hit a new high last week when researchers found a microbe carrying a genetic time-bomb—a highly transferable resistance trait enabling the microbe to withstand colistin, an antibiotic of last resort. 

Pizza Hut’s news comes after its sister company, Taco Bell, announced in April that it would be eliminating the use of antibiotics important to human medicine in the chicken it buys.

But KFC, the big chicken buyer in the Yum! Brands family, still hasn’t committed to much more than business as usual when it comes to its antibiotics use. Yum! Brands has an antibiotic use statement on its website, but loopholes effectively allow for routine antibiotic use by companies that supply KFC with chicken. My colleague Lena Brook recently attended Yum! Brands’ shareholder meeting in Kentucky and asked CEO Greg Creed directly to take action at KFC. When she asked that KFC chicken meet the same antibiotic standards that Yum! Brands is phasing in for chicken at Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, Mr. Creed replied:  "…there are different business solutions and ramifications for each of our brands." 

We sure hope Mr. Creed can quickly find a solution that works for KFC. McDonalds, Chick-fil-A, Panera, Subway, Taco Bell, and now Pizza Hut, all seem to have found one that works for chicken. With superbugs on the rise and posing an ever-more serious threat to public health, we can’t afford to wait any longer.

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