KFC Sues Chinese Companies Over False Rumors About Its Food

kim kardashian

Social media can, at times, be very detrimental for companies, especially those responsible for handling our food. KFC, which has more than 4,800 operating restaurants in China, recently discovered false claims about their chicken, and have acted quickly to shut down the rumors.

Parent company, Yum Brands, is already familiar with acts of defamation and real product issues. Currently, the company is trying to recover financially in China, a region which accounts for half its revenue. First quarter profits and revenue showed declines, with sales down 9% from last year. The monetary issues are the effect of KFC’s troubles in China.

In 2012, the company’s sales began to drop off after reports revealed that two of its suppliers were providing chickens with extremely high levels of antibiotics. Two years later, KFC China had to suspend its procurement from the meat supplier, Shanghai Husi Food Co., after local media investigated its operations. Evidently, Husi used expired meat products in the processing of food.

Subsequent to the supplier changes, the website Daily Buzz Live posted an article falsely explaining the reason KFC shortened its name.

“They allegedly cannot use the word chicken anymore. Why? KFC does not use real chickens? They allegedly use genetically manipulated organisms. These so-called ‘chickens’ are kept alive by tubes inserted into their bodies to pump blood and nutrients throughout their structure.”

The story about the genetically altered chicken was an old one, however, that did not stop the nearly 50,000 times the article was shared on Facebook. KFC had to battle through and endure accusations such as these almost all too often in order to rebuild their credibility and financial position.

KFC spokesman Rick Maynard told Business Insider last year, “there is absolutely no truth to this ridiculous urban legend, which has been debunked many times. KFC uses only top quality poultry from trusted companies like Tyson and Pilgrim’s Pride – the same brands customers know from their local supermarkets.”

Well, the most recent incident deserves another debunking. In fact, it deserves more than that – a lawsuit. The popular restaurant chain is protecting its own reputation by suing three Chinese companies that acted out of defamation, and is demanding 1.5 million yuan, or $242,000, along with a public apology.

This comes at an opportune time for KFC, given that the Chinese government is campaigning to sterilize the internet of false claims and rumors, particularly on social media. Prior to, it has been difficult for companies to protect their reputation on the Internet, said KFC.

Shanxi Wei Lu Kuang Technology Company Ltd, Taiyuan Zero Point Technology Company and Ying Chen An Zhi Success and Culture Communication Ltd purportedly used their social media accounts on WeChat to spread talk about the quality of KFC chickens. KFC said in a statement (on their Chinese website) that the false information about chickens having six wings and eight legs had made its way through 4,000 posts. Again, the genetically modified chicken refuses to disappear.

“This not only seriously misled consumers, but also hurt our brand,” said Qu Cuirong, KFC China’s president.

The case was filed before a court in Shanghai. The defendants have not publicly commented on the matter.

Photo Credit: Via Flickr/Mike Mozart

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