By Jonathan Moniz, Staff Writer
Over the past week, KFC, one of the largest fast food distributors in the country, has pledged to remove antibiotics from its poultry products in the future.
The move and decision from the company, which is owned by Yums! Distribution, came after pressure from the grassroots organization and movement MASSPirg, which had sought the pledge and commitment from KFC for a year.
KFC has been the fourth in a string of companies affected by the campaign, with McDonalds being the first and Subway and Chick-fil-A following soon after. They have all made commitments to removing antibiotics from their poultry lines.
The problems with antibiotics stem from the increasingly dangerous infections known as microbial resistance bacteria strains. Antibiotics, as a drug dedicated to eliminating infectious life forms and invasive strains within recent years, have grown worse.
This has led to the phenomenon known as microbial resistance, which is an increasingly potent strain of bacteria that are more and more resistant to typical antibiotic cures and preventative measures, due to the overuse of antibiotics.
As an increasing health concern, microbial resistant “superbugs” have grown even stronger, killing roughly 23,000 Americans each year.
The World Health Organization has classified them as a growing health concern.
The ways in which companies such as KFC, McDonalds, Subway, and more employ antibiotic use in their foods is not through direct contact with the animals, but instead over the production of animals in factory farms.
On the farms themselves, animals are often packed closely together in tightly confined areas. Within these small pens, sickness and illnesses that could otherwise be avoided can’t, and so they have to provide a prescription of antibiotics in order to keep the animals healthy.
“By getting companies to stop using these products, we reduce income to those factory farms,” said Haylee Becker, head of the local MASSPirg chapter on campus.
She also explained how this was part of a year long campaign by MASSPirg in order to get KFC to remove antibiotics. The problem with the industry, as she outlined, was that these drugs and their overuse led to large amounts of problems and were generally bad for the consumer.
They informed people of what drugs were being used, and raised awareness of the issue to get the public motivated about the issue.
With the pledge, the conditions from those who consume food from KFC and many other fast food restaurants will improve in quality and will mark a positive change for people, as Becker says. “I’m unsure how it will affect the market, but hopefully it will lead to more progress.”
The campaign, however, does not end. Becker, MASSPirg, and many other groups and organizations will continue on forward in order to proceed with the overall state of food.
“This came as a result of people working together at the community level, and it shows that efforts like this are important and do result in change, that people can win out against corporations and special interests groups,” Becker said.