Thursday, October 11, 2012

KFC: Worms in served chicken could batter brand

Ghosts of the past came to haunt Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) when officials from the food safety department in Kerala raided a Thiruvananthapuram outlet yesterday following complaints of worms in the chicken being served. KFC's tryst with India began in 1995, when it first set up a base in the country, an outlet in Bangalore. Food safety inspectors soon raided the outlet, finding chicken served to contain 2.8 per cent monosodium glutamate (MSG), said to cause nausea and headaches, retardation and birth defects. The Prevention of Food Adulteration Act sets the ceiling for MSG at one per cent. With KFC exceeding the MSG limits, its licence was revoked and the outlet had to be closed. The situation was no different in Delhi, when a fly was found in its kitchen and the food safety department under the Madan Lal Khurana-led BJP government in the capital ordered its closure.


Eventually, KFC exited the country following protests by health and animal rights activists, returning only a few years ago to set up shop in India. The food joint, now part of Yum! Restaurants, an American company that operates quick-service restaurants (QSR) such as Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, has 183 outlets in 35 cities. It is the leading player in the QSR space that specialises in chicken in India.
While the Kerala government is raiding KFC outlets as part of its drive to crack down on unhygienic joints, a spokesperson for the company said it was committed to following global standards.
"All KFC chicken is sourced from state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities, which comply with the most stringent food safety standards. These facilities are certified to international quality standards and audited frequently. Our chicken is freshly prepared several times a day in the most hygienic conditions in ovens at 250 degrees or fryers at 170 degrees," the spokesperson said.
But, food experts said the issue of worms being found in chicken was likely to hit the brand hard, as consumers are likely to grow cautious. The company declined to indicate how they proposed to deal with the negative publicity following the controversy.
In the past, Cadbury had launched an extended campaign with brand ambassador Amitabh Bachchan explaining how the firm had strengthened procedures to root out issues of contamination following the detection of worms in its chocolates.
Companies such as Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, meanwhile, lobbied hard to change perceptions following the pesticide-in-cola controversy a few years ago.

Source:http://www.business-standard.com

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