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Even KFC Has Had Their Fair Share Of Scandals

Even KFC Has Had Their Fair Share Of Scandals


When it comes to controversy in the fast food
industry, KFC has not been immune to some of the worst of it. So let’s take a fresh look back at some of
the biggest scandals to ever hit the fried chicken chain. There are plenty of urban legends involving
fast food, and KFC found itself targeted with a particularly weird one when bogus rumors
resurfaced in 2014 that the chain had been genetically modifying chickens to create bigger,
meatier birds. That evolved into fake claims that the company’s
rebranding from Kentucky Fried Chicken to KFC was legally required because the mutant
creatures they were frying up were technically not chickens. Although Snopes easily debunked the rumors,
they became so prevalent in China that KFC’s parent company, Yum! Brands, sued three Chinese tech firms for
allowing doctored photos of these monstrous, but entirely imaginary, creatures to proliferate
on its social media platforms. Yum! Brands won the suit but was awarded only a
small fraction of the damages sought. Nevertheless, a KFC spokesperson said that
the company was pleased with the outcome. “Oh my God, my sister told me about KFC breeding
these mutant chickens.” “They wouldn’t stay alive, though, would they? Look, how is it even possible to get mutant
chickens?” In 2014, Yum! Brands was rocked by a news story that originated
in China. A TV journalist went undercover in a factory
owned by Shanghai Husi Food Co., which supplied meat to Yum!-owned fast food restaurants throughout
China, and captured footage of employees mixing old, expired meat with fresh meat. Shanghai authorities ordered Husi to suspend
all operations, while the Shanghai Municipal Food and Drug Administration announced it
would investigate claims of the alleged use of expired raw food material production as
well as the processing of it in food. The repercussions were severe. Ten employees involved in the scheme received
prison sentences, while Husi’s U.S. parent company, OSI Group, was fined more than $300,000. Yum! Brands subsequently experienced a 16 percent
drop in sales in the wake of the scandal. In 2015, CNN reported that a customer at a
Los Angeles KFC received a serious shock when he opened up his box of food and dug into
his order. What he saw inside was terrifying. It was a piece of chicken that appeared to
have a small rodent-like body and long, thin tail. Upon closer inspection, the diner then made
a stunning allegation: he had been served a Kentucky Fried Rat. “I got this rat. This gnawing, teething, f—ing rat.” Photos of the man’s dish certainly appeared
to support his claim. After he went public with his accusations,
KFC investigated and tested the alleged rodent. When the results were in, KFC issued a statement
to ABC describing the results that read, “Recently, a customer questioned the quality
of a KFC product, and this received considerable publicity given the sensational nature of
his claim…The customer’s attorney turned over the product in question for testing at
an independent lab, and the results officially confirmed what KFC knew all along, the product
was chicken and not a rat as he claimed.” KFC has made its share of mistakes, but this
particular scandal is one in which they deservedly emerged mostly unscathed. When Papa John’s founder John Schnatter was
forced to resign after admitting to using a racial slur, he tried to take KFC’s founder
Colonel Harland Sanders down with him as a twisted way of attempting to justify his own
behavior. During a conference call, he complained that
Sanders called black people the N-word without ever facing the public backlash that Schnatter
was enduring. However, the family of the late Sanders, who
founded Kentucky Fried Chicken in 1952 and died in 1980, denied that the fast-food trailblazer
ever used racist language. In an interview with the Louisville Courier
Journal, Sanders’ grandson, Trigg Adams, blasted Schnatter’s assertion as, quote, “an absolute
lie.” Furthermore, he described the ousted Papa
John’s founder as “a weasel.” According to Adams, Schnatter’s accusation
was simply a case of projecting his own bad behavior onto someone else. As he put it, “Because he’s prejudiced, he’s trying to say
somebody else was, too. [Sanders] had absolutely no prejudice against
anybody.” In August 2019, a woman named Rosi Lancaster
picked up some chicken from a KFC in Annandale, Australia, and was horrified when she began
eating and realized it was a tad undercooked. To be more precise, it was completely raw
inside. She took to Facebook and shared photos of
the vile-looking pink meat that had been hidden beneath KFC’s signature crispy coating. She wrote in the caption, “Purchased on Friday from KFC Annandale. Rang immediately after. The girl on the phone seemed interested and
asked me to email photos through and they would call back. No call back yet and no response…” Lancaster’s Facebook post went viral as it
racked up thousands of comments, which prompted KFC to finally issue an apology in which they
said, “We’re very sorry to hear about this as it
doesn’t meet our very high standards of food safety and we have been in touch with the
customer to offer a full refund. We’re also currently in the process of undertaking
a full review of the incident to understand what has happened.” Actress Pamela Anderson has long been an animal
rights activist, and she’s also been a vocal member of People for the Ethical Treatment
of Animals for decades. In 2008, she took aim at KFC over the treatment
of their chickens. In association with PETA, she presented a
video documenting treatment of the chickens along with the launch of a companion website,
KentuckyFriedCruelty.com. According to Anderson, when it comes to the
Colonel’s famed secret recipe: “Sadly, the main ingredient is cruelty.” In the video, Anderson showcased footage of
chickens enduring horrific conditions that was allegedly shot at a slaughterhouse that
supplied chickens to KFC. This wasn’t the first time that Anderson had
attacked the chain. In fact, she’d been calling for a boycott
of KFC for nearly a decade at that point, even visiting restaurants personally to protest. When news of the video’s production broke,
KFC tried to head things off by telling the Associated Press, “We have an independent panel of outside experts
who set our high standards. They are the same standards that all our competitors
use to insure humane treatment around the country.” Anderson’s protests may not have stopped KFC
in its tracks, but it likely convinced a few customers to think twice before ordering one
of their buckets. In 2014, a 7-year-old boy in Newcastle, England,
was enjoying the KFC chicken that his stepmother, Krystal Henderson, had picked up for him when
he bit into a piece that was as hard as a rock. Upon inspection, Henderson discovered that
the chicken wasn’t chicken at all. It was, in fact, a piece of blue paper towel
that had apparently been deep fried. As Henderson pointed out to The Express, “The blue roll could have been used for anything,
it could have bleach or disinfectant on it. To give that to a child, I felt so guilty
even though it wasn’t my fault. For a child to bite into that is horrendous.” To make matters worse, when Henderson returned
to the restaurant to complain, she was told to phone the customer service line. Eventually, KFC issued an apology and a refund. A spokesperson told The Express, “We’re very sorry for Ms. Henderson’s experience
and apologised to her immediately, as well as giving her a refund at the time of the
incident. We take food quality and hygiene very seriously
and unfortunately, on this extremely rare occasion, our restaurant failed to meet the
high standards that both we and our customers expect. We have retrained staff on our stringent food
preparation procedures at this store to ensure this doesn’t happen again.” KFC surmised that the blue tissue most likely
originated from a tissue roll used for hygiene purposes and then fell into the batter undetected. Most of the controversy that has surrounded
KFC over the years has had to do with its chicken. But a 2017 hygiene scandal that erupted in
the United Kingdom had nothing to do with poultry. A TV news report from that year investigating
McDonald’s, Burger King, and KFC tested samples of ice from 10 different branches of each
of these restaurants. Five samples taken from KFC were found to
have “significant” levels of fecal bacteria. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural
Affairs, which is the government agency responsible for setting U.K. water standards, says that
the acceptable level of fecal bacteria in drinking water is zero. A spokesperson for KFC told The Independent
that the company was “shocked and extremely disappointed” by the test results and outlined
the steps that were taken, explaining, “We immediately shut down the ice machines
in the restaurants affected to conduct a thorough clean and inspection, and reinforced the importance
of adhering to our strict procedures to all employees.” Treating chicken with antibiotics is a matter
of some debate. While America’s National Chicken Council has
stated that the practice can be perfectly safe and keeps birds healthy and consumers
free of disease when done responsibly, there remains some controversy about the pros and
cons of this practice. In 2016, several consumer advocacy groups
banded together to launch a petition asking KFC parent company Yum! Brands to stop using chickens that had been
treated with antibiotics. As Lena Brook of the Natural Resources Defense
Council, one of the U.S. groups behind the petition, put it, “KFC is lagging woefully behind, diners around
the country want KFC to step up.” The pressure tactics were apparently effective,
as the following year, KFC announced plans to stop using chickens treated with human
antibiotics. In 2020, KFC Australia ran an edgy TV commercial
promoting its Zinger Popcorn Box that started a backlash. In the spot, a young woman wearing short shorts
and a low-cut top is on her way to a music festival. Seeing a parked car with tinted windows, she
tweaks her outfit, adjusting her cleavage while looking at her reflection in the car’s
mirror-like windows. As she makes adjustments to her top, the window
rolls down to reveal two young boys with goofy smiles on their faces, along with a grown
woman expressing her disapproval. Collective Shout, an Australian advocacy group
dedicated to calling out the objectification of women, put the commercial on blast, saying, “Ads like this reinforce the false idea that
we can’t expect better from boys. It is another manifestation of the ‘boys will
be boys’ trope, hampering our ability to challenge sexist ideas which contribute to harmful behavior
towards women and girls.” In response to the controversy, KFC issued
a statement that read, “We apologize if anyone was offended by our
latest commercial. Our intention was not to stereotype women
and young boys in a negative light.” In 2018, a bizarre confluence of events led
British KFC restaurants to literally run out of chicken. It all began when the chain switched from
its previous delivery company to DHL. When a large car crash involving seven vehicles
and at least one fatality took place at a junction near DHL’s main warehouse in the
town of Rugby, police blocked off roads in order to investigate. The road closure left DHL’s chicken-loaded
trucks stuck in traffic, and KFC restaurants without any chicken. “My reaction is angry, sad, and disappointed.” KFC wound up temporarily shutting down two-thirds
of its locations throughout the U.K. and Ireland, with DHL taking responsibility and apologizing
to hungry customers. In response to the crisis, KFC contracted
ad agency Mother to craft a clever ad campaign to mitigate the damage with a little humor. The agency cooked up a full-page ad featuring
a KFC bucket, with the letters FCK substituted for KFC. As the ad joked, “A chicken restaurant without any chicken. It’s not ideal. It’s been a hell of a week, but we’re making
progress, and every day more and more fresh chicken is being delivered to our restaurants.” This sounds like the sort of story that might
make you reconsider ever again asking the question, “Why did the chicken cross the road?” “Why did the chicken cross the road?” “Why did the chicken cross the road?” “To get to the other side.” Check out one of our newest videos right here! Plus, even more Mashed videos about fast food
chains are coming soon. Subscribe to our YouTube channel and hit the
bell so you don’t miss a single one.


Reader Comments

  1. Besides Starbucks, BK, KFC, and McDonald's, etc. I'm surprised that Wendy's doesn't have any scandals and nobody talks about that.

  2. Ok Mashed, how did y'all know I was watching that Breaking Bad cold open which shows Gus's clockwork Drug distribution for his Chicken chain…that's a scary coincidence!

  3. Yeah people bathing in their franchisees kitchen sinks at a few locations is pretty nasty. More than one was way to many. I'll never eat there again. Not that I have in a decade anyways. The doughnut chicken and sink bathing shot that down the tubes for good though.

  4. I heard that rumor about the genetically modified chickens and the name change. I used to say KFC = Kentucky Fried Clones.

  5. Fun fact minus gloves soap etc the extra skin not the same it what makes cool stuff fold hope it Cooks into that last batch of the day

  6. I don't ever eat KFC more than 15 years now they just got so nasty bet the kernel is rolling over in his grave.

  7. I don’t believe that. That can be the workers themselves wrong but the company has hard rules. So that can be because of some workers there and this we can find at a lot of restaurants in the world.

  8. When my wife was a KFC restaurant manager she would say that when PETA came to the restaurant to protest they'd be there for about an hour and during that time sales would slump pretty hard… but then once PETA was gone sales would have a huge spike up for the next three to four hours.

  9. Most of the problems with the cooked food is the the result of poorly trained employees or employees pulling pranks or just NOT giving a damn.
    In Florida, in Avon Park, years ago..the chicken was frequently undercooked.
    Complaints to management had no effect. So people stoped going.
    In Washington State in the 70'a my younger sister got a job at KFC, and she told me that she and her crew put some dimes in the baked beans, which were then served to customers. She said an old lady came up during lunch hour exclaimed " I found a dime in my baked beans ".
    She thought it funny. I was horrified.
    I worked at the McDonald's up the street, but no one there ever thought of doing harm to the food because we valued our jobs.

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