A Letter to Yum! Brands About the Overuse of Antibiotics in Livestock Production

January 28, 2016

Mr. Greg Creed, Chief Executive Officer
Yum! Brands
5200 Commerce Crossings Dr.
Louisville, KY 40229

We write you as representatives of organizations with millions of members to express our concerns about the overuse of antibiotics in livestock production, and to ask that Yum! make a strong, definitive public commitment on antibiotic stewardship in its meat and poultry supply chains.

Your recent decision to eliminate the use of antibiotics “critically important” to human medicine in your chicken supply by the end of 2016 is a positive step forward, but does not constitute a meaningful antibiotics use policy. Because very few antibiotics designated as “critically important” are used by the poultry industry, your focus on this very limited set of drugs may create the false impression that Yum! is taking substantial action, even though the vast majority of medically important antibiotic use would likely not be affected.

As described below, best practices for antimicrobial stewardship policies include a commitment to eliminate the routine use (i.e., for growth promotion and disease prevention) of all medically important antibiotics across meat and poultry supply chains, as well as to verify these practices through a third-party verification program.

Our groups call on Yum! to commit to antibiotic stewardship by:

  1. Acting now to end the routine use of medically-important antibiotics in the production of chicken sold in your restaurants, except as necessary to treat birds diagnosed with an illness.
  2. Defining a time-bound to phase out the routine use of medically-important antibiotics across all of the company’s meat supply chains. Antibiotics should be available to treat animals diagnosed with an illness.
  3. Adopting third-party auditing of your antibiotics use policy and benchmarking results showing progress in meeting the goals described above.

Yum! and its restaurant chains, including Kentucky Fried Chicken, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, can make a vital contribution to stemming antibiotic resistance by disallowing routine antibiotics use among your suppliers. As part of your commitment to safeguarding antibiotics, we also urge Yum! to encourage better management practices on farms. Reduced crowding, more hygienic conditions, improved diets, and longer weaning periods, among other changes, can improve animal welfare and minimize the need for prophylactic drugs on farms.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rise of bacteria resistant to commonly relied- upon antibiotics is one of our most pressing public health threats. Each year in the US, two million people contract antibiotic-resistant infections and 23,000 die as a result. Due to worsening resistance, future organ transplants, cancer chemotherapy, dialysis, and other medical procedures that rely on effective antibiotics, are at risk. While overuse of antibiotics in human medicine is a major contributing factor, the nation’s health experts agree that feeding low doses of antibiotics to animals that are not sick contributes to the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Increasingly consumers are asking for meat raised without the routine use of antibiotics.

A meaningful commitment on antibiotics will allow Yum! to join the ranks of restaurant industry leaders on this issue, like Subway, McDonald’s, Chick-fil-A, Panera, Chipotle, and many others that are responding to powerful consumer demand for meat and poultry raised without the routine use of these important human medicines.

With 70% of medically-important antibiotics in the US sold for livestock use, we can’t fix the problem of antibiotic resistance unless the livestock sector and large meat buyers like Yum! Brands are part of the solution.

We appreciate your attention to our concerns.

Respectfully,

Andrew Gunther, Executive Director, A Greener World | Nancy Sudak, Co-CEO, Academy of Integrative Health & Medicine | Sean Lucan, Associate Professor, Albert Einstein College of Medicine | Robyn O’Brien, Founder/Executive Director, AllergyKids Foundation | Emma Rose, Campaign/Lobbying/Communications Coordinator, Alliance to Save our Antibiotics | Lance Price, PhD, Director, Antibiotic Resistance Action Center, George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health | Diane Brown, Executive Director, Arizona PIRG | Harrison C. Spencer, MD, President /CEO, Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health | Jena Price, Legislative Director, California League of Conservation Voters | Rev. Dr. Rick Schlosser, Executive Director, California Church IMPACT | Lynn Silver, Senior Advisor, California Project LEAN | Adele Amodeo, Executive Director, California Public Health Association – North | Emily Rusch, Executive Director, CALPIRG | Robert Gronski, Policy Coordinator, Catholic Rural Life | Stephanie Feldstein, Population & Sustainability Director, Center for Biological Diversity | Charles Margulis, Media Director, Center for Environmental Health | Rebecca Spector, West Coast Director, Center for Food Safety | Patricia Buck, Founder and Executive Director, Center for Foodborne Illness Research & Prevention | Michael Jacobson, PhD, President, Center for Science in the Public Interest | Brent Newell, Legal Director, Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment | Miriam Gordon, California Director, Clean Water Action | Evan Preston, Director, ConnPIRG | Amanda Long, Director General, Consumers International | Jean Halloran, Director of Food Policy Initiatives, Consumers Union | Danny Katz, Director, CoPIRG | Rachelle Wenger, Director, Public Policy & Community Advocacy, Dignity Health | Jim Slama, President, FamilyFarmed | Aaron Gross, Founder and CEO, Farm Forward | Gene Baur, President, Farm Sanctuary | Patty Lovera, Assistant Director, Food and Water Watch | Steve Roach, Food Safety Program Director, Food Animals Concern Trust | Joann Lo, Executive Director, Food Chain Workers Alliance | Dave Murphy, Founder/Executive Director, Food Democracy Now! | Melinda Hemmelgarn, Host, Food Sleuth Radio | Kari Hamerschlag, Senior Program Manager, Food and Technology Program, Friends of the Earth | Carrie Balkcom, Executive Director, Global Animal Partnership | Dan Rosenthal, Founder, Green Chicago Restaurant Coalition | Tim Reed, Executive Director, Health Action International | Stacia Clinton, National Program Director, Health Care Without Harm | Abe Scarr, Director, Illinois PIRG | Shefali Sharma, Director, Agricultural Commodities and Globalization, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy | Jamie Harvie, Executive Director, Institute for a Sustainable Future | Bob Martin, Director of Food System Policy, Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future | Richard Wood, Steering Committee Chair, Keep Antibiotics Working | Nancy Utesch, Founder & Farmer, Kewaunee CARES | Brent Wilkes, National Executive Director, League of United Latin American Citizens | Ted Quaday, Executive Director, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association | Emily Scarr, Director, Maryland PIRG | Janet Domenitz, Executive Director, MASSPIRG | Jane L. Finn, Chief Operating Officer, Michigan Antibiotic Resistance Reduction Coalition | Monifa Bandele, Senior Campaign Director, MomsRising | Jeanine Thomas, President, MRSA Survivors Network | Rudy Arredondo, President/CEO/Founder, National Latino Farmers & Ranchers Trade Association | Lena Brook, Food Policy Advocate, Natural Resources Defense Council | Dan Bensonoff, Policy Director, NOFA – MASS | Maddie Monty, Policy Advisor, NOFA – VT | Steve Gilman, Policy Coordinator, NOFA – IC | Bill Duesing, Organic Advocate, NOFA – CT | Elizabeth Henderson, Policy Committee Co-Chair, NOFA - NY | David Rosenfeld, Director, OSPIRG | Judy Hatcher, Executive Director, Pesticide Action Network | Catherine Thomasson, MD, President, Physicians for Social Responsibility | Anna Zorzet, Coordinator, ReAct Europe | Michael Dimock, President, Roots of Change | Sejal Choksi-Chugh, Executive Director & BayKeeper, San Francisco BayKeeper | Steve Heilig, Associate Executive Director, San Francisco Medical Society | Toni Liquori, Founder/Executive Director, School Food Focus | Ted Schettler MD, MPH, Science Director, Science and Environmental Health Network | Brenda Ruiz, Policy Committee Chair, Slow Food California | Richard McCarthy, Executive Director, Slow Food USA | Emily Heil, Policy Chair, Society of Infectious Disease Pharmacists | Cherise Chartwell, MPH, President, Southern California Public Health Association | Darya Rose, PhD, Founder, SummerTomato.com | Kyle Tafuri, Sustainability Advisor, The Deirdre Imus EnvironmentalHealth Center | VaniHari, Founder, TheFoodBabe.com | Gary Ruskin, Co-Founder/Co-Director, U.S. Right to Know | Merith Basey MSc, Executive Director, North America, Universities Allied for Essential Medicines | Tracy Sides, Founder, Urban Oasis | Bill Wenzel, Antibiotics Program Director, U.S. PIRG | Bruce Speight, Director, WashPIRG | Buffalo Bruce, Staff Ecologist, Western Nebraska Resources Council | Peter Skopec, Director, WISPIRG

Priority Action

We're teaming up with big restaurant chains to stop the overuse of antibiotics on factory farms. Call on KFC to stop selling meat raised on routine antibiotics.

Support Us

Your donation supports U.S. PIRG’s work to stand up for consumers on the issues that matter, especially when powerful interests are blocking progress.

Consumer Alerts

Join our network and stay up to date on our campaigns, get important consumer updates and take action on critical issues.
Optional Member Code