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KFC’s biggest scandals from mutant chickens to racism

The billion pound fast food chain has weathered several storms

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Kentucky Fried Chicken has been going strong ever since 1952, and remains the world’s second-largest restaurant chain after McDonald’s. But it’s also been involved in some controversy – what are the biggest KFC scandals?

Remember the outrage in 2018 when a chicken shortage caused 600 branches of KFC to temporarily close?

Here’s everything you need to know about KFC’s biggest scandals to hit in recent years, as C4 air a documentary about the fast food chain.

Inside KFC At Christmas
Inside KFC at Christmas follows the staff around the UK as they cope with the coronavirus pandemic (Credit: C4)

Read more: KFC launches Christmas burger that you pour gravy all over and Brits are divided

What are KFC’s biggest scandals?

The Hermiston Gait KFC in Edinburgh was temporarily closed last week after a “surprise visitor” was found on the premises.

A KFC spokesperson said: “It wasn’t a rat, but we did have an unwelcome guest at our Hermiston Gait restaurant.”

The restaurant closed for a day to “fully fix” the problem.

Here are some of the other biggest scandals to hit the fried chicken chain…

Covid-secure KFC

In May, an angry KFC fan slammed the chain, insisting it “shouldn’t be open”.

The unnamed person visited a KFC drive-thru at the Kingswood Retail Park in Hull.

They told the Hull Daily Mail they’d been served by staff who weren’t adhering to social distancing guidelines.

The woman said she also noticed a number of staff members not wearing protective masks or gloves.

A rep for KFC told ED! that “stringent hygiene and social distancing measures are in place”.

As a result of the coronavirus outbreak, KFC added: “Any of our team members who are packing and handling orders must wear gloves.”

Everyone is wearing a mask during the current coronavirus pandemic – or they should be! (Credit: Pexels)

Mutant chicken scandal

KFC found itself targeted by bogus rumours in 2014 about the quality of their chickens.

The chain was accused of genetically modifying chickens to create bigger, meatier birds.

This led to fake claims that the company’s rebranding from Kentucky Fried Chicken to KFC was legally required because they weren’t actually serving up chicken.

KFC insist their chicken is very much real.

Their website says: “One hundred per cent of our chicken is real and meets independently assured animal welfare and food safety standards, all the way from farm to fingers.”

In fact, in 2019, KFC became the first UK fast food chain to commit to new chicken welfare standards.

Viral video

An employee claimed mac-and-cheese and green beans were three or four days old in a 2013 video shot in a KFC kitchen.

The employee said: “I want the world to know this is what we do after we close. Then we feed it to the customers.”

It went viral again in 2017, several years after it was originally posted on YouTube.

KFC issued a statement saying: “This video was filmed many years ago and does not reflect our standards or food handling procedures.

“It, unfortunately, resurfaces online from time to time, often tagged as various locations inaccurately. The actions of those former employees was unacceptable.”

KFC believes its chicken is finger-licking good (Credit: KFC)

Customer served rat?

A customer at a Los Angeles KFC claimed he was served a Kentucky Fried Rat in 2015.

In reality, despite the deep fried chicken genuinely resembling the shape of a rat, it was chicken as promised.

KFC investigated and tested the alleged rodent, and issued the statement: “An independent lab officially confirmed what KFC knew all along – the product was chicken and not a rat.”

Colonel Sanders a racist?

John Schnatter (from Papa John’s) accused KFC founder Colonel Sanders of using racist language.

However, the family of the late Colonel Sanders denied he’d ever used racist language.

The Colonel’s grandson, Trigg Adams, called the allegations “an absolute lie”.

Pamela Anderson
Pamela Anderson accused KFC of animal cruelty (Credit: Cover Images)

Animal cruelty

Pamela Anderson accused KFC of cruelty in 2008.

The former Baywatch star blasted the fast food chain for the alleged treatment of its chickens.

KFC insisted they have an independent panel of outside experts who set their high standards.

They said: “They are the same standards that all our competitors use to insure humane treatment around the country.”

Tragic case of brain damage

KFC paid $8million damages after a 7-year-old girl was left brain damaged.

In 2005, Monika Samaan allegedly ate a KFC chicken wrap that gave her salmonella poisoning so severe it left her brain damage and confined to a wheelchair.

Her family sued KFC, which denied responsibility and challenged the allegation that their chicken was responsible for the salmonella poisoning.

Fecal bacteria

In 2017, random testing found fecal bacteria in KFC branches around the UK.

A TV news report tested samples of ice from 10 different fast food outlets throughout the UK, including McDonald’s, Burger King, and KFC.

Five samples had “significant” levels of fecal bacteria from KFC.

A spokesperson for KFC said: “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.”

And it’s certainly not just KFC…

Remember the infamous McDonald’s lawsuit over piping-hot coffee?

Or claims that Burger King restaurants in Europe had been passing off horse meat as hamburger?

What is Inside KFC at Christmas?

Inside KFC at Christmas is a one-off documentary about the chain’s turbulent 2020.

Channel 4 go behind the scenes as the team at KFC prepare to face Christmas after one of their most challenging years.

This documentary will provide a unique look at one of the nation’s best loved fast food restaurants – from the board room to the kitchen floor – via the likeable staff.

We watch KFC as they attempt to launch a new festive burger to keep customers coming back.

Viewers will also follow the struggles of the franchise owners trying to keep their businesses going during a global pandemic.

KFC's Christmas meal lifestyle picture
The KFC Christmas burger – you’ll either love it or hate it! (Credit: KFC)

Read more: Customer says KFC should ‘stay shut’ amid claims drive-thru staff served food without masks or gloves

Is there a real Colonel Sanders?

American businessman Colonel Harland David Sanders died in 1980.

He founded fast food chicken restaurant chain Kentucky Fried Chicken (also known as KFC).

Colonel Sanders began selling fried chicken from his roadside restaurant in North Corbin, Kentucky, during the Great Depression.

During that time, he developed his “secret recipe” and his patented method of cooking chicken in a pressure fryer.

The title ‘colonel’ was honorary…

He was a Kentucky Colonel, not one of military rank.

Is there a film about Colonel Sanders?

Mario Lopez currently stars as Colonel Sanders in the short film A Recipe for Seduction on Lifetime.

The Saved by the Bell actor portrays a sexy version of the famed mascot in the film, which is really a commercial for KFC.

His task is to protect his secret recipe at all costs!

Inside KFC at Christmas airs on C4 at 9pm on Tuesday December 15 2020.

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