Kentucky Fried Chicken assures consumers its chicken is safe

02-05-2006 | |

The face of KFC founder Colonel Harland Sanders’ face will appear on a sticker meant to head off any concerns about eating chicken if bird flu spreads to the United States.

The small stickers are being put on the lid of every bucket of chicken that KFC sells in the US.

The seal is a pre-emptive campaign assuring customers that the chicken is “rigorously inspected, thoroughly cooked, quality assured.”

“While it doesn’t specifically mention avian flu, for deliberate reasons, it reassures our customers that our food is perfectly safe,” said Jonathan Blum, a spokesman for Yum Brands Inc., the parent of KFC.

Outbreaks of the H5N1 avian flu occurred in some countries where Kentucky Fried Chicken does business, with mixed results on its profits.

In Turkey and Trinidad, KFC’s business slumped for a few weeks before recovering after the chain ran ads and handed out material at stores to reassure customers that its chicken was safe to eat, Blum said.

In China, Yum’s operating profit plunged by 20% in last year’s fourth quarter, due partly to concern about avian flu. KFC sales had rebounded by February and March in the fast-growing market. In Thailand, the avian flu hasn’t had an impact on sales, Blum said.

Chick-fil-A, based in Atlanta, currently doesn’t have plans to add a food-safety message to its packaging, though it has been discussed as part of contingency planning, said company spokesman Don Perry.

Blum said in an interview that KFC has safeguards in place stretching from “farm to table” to guarantee that its chicken is safe.

KFC suppliers keep the birds under cover to prevent contact with any migratory bird that might carry the virus, Blum said. Each flock is checked for the virus before being shipped for processing, he said.

At processing plants, each piece of chicken is inspected before being sent to restaurants and then the chicken is cooked at high temperatures as another safeguard, he said.