Wednesday, December 19, 2012

KFC Chickens 'Fed So Many Illegal Hormones They Are Unable To Walk'

There is a view in Asia that famous fast food brands from the West are subjected to more rigorous food health standards than their Asian competitors. There is apparently a trust among consumers instilled by Colonel Sander’s and Ronald McDonald’s smiling faces, and the premium attached to such brands.

But this reputation has been damaged by Chinese state TV reports that chickens served at KFC and McDonald’s restaurants in China have been fed illegal, toxic drugs and kept under constant lights to make them grow faster, and thereby provide more profits for their unscrupulous producers.

China Central Television’s investigation, which it said was based on a year of undercover reporting, alleged that some of KFC's suppliers in Shandong had given at least 18 kinds of antibiotics to chickens to keep them healthy. The birds also had lights turned on around the clock to make them eat constantly, with a chicken growing from 30g to 3.5kg in just 40 days.

A farmer in Gaomi told CCTV he would also mix a hormone into the feed and the birds would become so fat that some were unable to walk. Another farmer said they had to change antibiotics periodically after chickens developed resistance to the drugs.

They said their chickens were bought by the Liuhe Group, which is based in Qingdao, and reportedly sells 40 tonnes of chicken a month to KFC's Chinese subsidiary. When the chickens were sent to be slaughtered, workers would fabricate records about how they were raised before they were shipped off to KFC’s parent company, Yum Brands, which also owns Pizza Hut.

KFC said it would co-operate with Chinese authorities in investigating the reports and would punish its suppliers harshly if they had fed antiviral drugs and growth hormones to its chickens.

"KFC attaches great importance to the contents of the media report and will actively co-operate with the relevant government departments' investigation," KFC said. "If (we) find out that our suppliers have conducted any illegal activity, (we) will handle it strictly.”

It was an about turn from last month, when a Yum Brands spokesman dismissed as "untrue" reports that some KFC chickens in China were being fed toxic additives.

McDonald's said its chicken and raw materials pass through independent, third-party laboratory tests. "Our chicken products comply with stringent food quality standards and comply with the relevant government standards. Please, everyone, don't worry about eating it," a spokesman for the Golden Arches pleaded.

China has struggled to rein in health violations in its vast food sector despite repeated pledges to deal with the problem. The country has been plagued by news reports of fake cooking oil, tainted milk - and even watermelons that explode from absorbing too much fertiliser.

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