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KFC Will Stop Using Antibiotics in Its Chicken… Eventually

So, I guess we live in a world where we’re supposed to be excited when restaurants don’t serve us food that’s a major risk to our health. Following in the footsteps of McDonald’s and Chick-fil-A, KFC just announced that it plans to curb the use of human antibiotics in its chicken. Hooray?

The Southern-themed fast-food maker, which even I have to admit I’ve enjoyed from time to time (those mashed potatoes might not be fresh, but they’re pretty damn tasty), is currently the second-biggest U.S. chicken chain. And at the moment, that delightful Kentucky Fried Chicken you’re consuming contains antibiotics that are used in human medicine.

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Seventy percent of human antibiotics are currently used for meat and dairy production to help prevent infections like E. coli in animals — aka to prevent vendors from taking losses when some animals naturally get sick and can’t be sold as food for humans anymore. As you’ve probably heard by now, using antibiotics like these in food is dangerous because it builds up our immunity to the drugs, making them less effective in fighting disease when we really need them.

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While the privately owned Chick-fil-A stopped putting antibiotics in its products in 2014, followed by McD’s in 2016, and then Taco Bell and Pizza Hut last month, KFC is finally promising to do the same — by the end of 2018. “We recognize that it’s a growing public health concern,” KFC U.S. President Kevin Hochman said. “This is something that’s important to many of our customers and it’s something we need to do to show relevance and modernity within our brand.” Well, duh. But also, y’know, it’s the right thing to do!

Right now the policy will only take effect at KFCs in the U.S., so you might want to hold off on eating at the chain if and when you travel outside the country — oh, and obviously until the 2018 antibiotic ban takes effect. It’s too bad stuff like this takes so long for corporations to implement, and even then, it seems mostly motivated by sales rather than public health concerns. Still, better late than never, I guess?

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