Kentucky Fried Chicken: Tackling the Trans Fat Problem

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Case Details:

Case Code : BENV012
Case Length : 12 Pages
Period : 2006-2007
Pub Date : 2007
Teaching Note :Not Available
Organization : KFC Corporation
Industry : FMCG
Countries : USA

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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"Trans fat is almost everywhere on this (KFC's) menu. By frying in such a dangerous oil, KFC is making its unsuspecting consumers' arteries extra crispy,"1

- Michael Jacobson, Executive Director, Center for Science in the Public Interest2, in June 2006.

"We are pleased to announce KFC is switching to a zero trans fat cooking oil for all of our fried products. This conversion follows more than two years of extensive testing to identify an oil that provides all the same delicious taste as our original recipes with zero grams of trans fat. The great news is that KFC's Original Recipe and Extra Crispy chicken, along with the majority of our menu items at KFC, will have the same delicious taste with zero grams of trans fat. This is a win-win for our customers."3

- Gregg Dedrick, President of KFC Corporation, in October 2006.


On October 30, 20064, KFC Corporation (KFC), a leading fast food restaurant chain, announced that all its 5,500 restaurants in the United States (US) would start using cooking oil that did not contain trans-fatty acids5 (trans fats).

The company said that it would replace the partially hydrogenated soybean oil that was being used in KFC restaurants with a low linolenic6 soybean oil.

The use of this new oil has already started in several KFC restaurants and the switch over was expected to be fully completed in the US by the end of April 2007.7

This announcement made by KFC was hailed as a victory for the consumer advocacy groups and nutrition experts who had been campaigning for a ban on trans fats.

Over the years, the link between nutrition and disease has become a much debated topic in the media and public health domain.  Though the World Health Organization,8 in 1997, declared the rising number of severely overweight individuals in the US as an epidemic, the cause for concern among consumers with regard to trans fats did not gain much momentum until May 2003 when a lawsuit filed against Kraft Foods Inc. (Kraft Foods), to stop the sale of its popular Oreo Cookies to children in the State of California, gained widespread publicity.

This lawsuit was filed against the company because the cookies contained trans fats.

Kentucky Fried Chicken: Tackling the Trans Fat Problem - Next Page>>

1] "Consumer Group Sues KFC Over Unhealthy Fat,", June 13, 2006.

2] The Center for Science in the Public Interest is a non-profit organization in the US that provides information to the public and policymakers and conducts research in areas such as food, alcohol, health, the environment, and other issues related to science and technology. It was founded in 1971.

3] "KFC Announces Switch to Zero Trans Fat Cooking Oil Following Two-Year Test for Same Great Taste,", October 30, 2006.


5] Trans-fatty acids or trans fats are a type of unsaturated fat, produced as a result of the partial hydrogenation of plant oils. Trans fats are believed to be harmful as they contribute to coronary heart disease by simultaneously increasing the level of bad cholesterol and lowering the level of good cholesterol. Some types of trans fats are found in small quantities in meat and dairy products. However, most of the trans fats consumed by people are due to the use of partial hydrogenated oils by restaurants, bakeries, food manufacturers, etc.

6] Linolenic acid refers to either of the two fatty acids, namely, alpha-linolenic acid and gamma-linolenic acid.

7] "KFC to Shift to VISTIVE Low - Linolenic Soybean Oil,", October 30, 2006.

8] The World Health Organization (WHO) is the United Nation's specialized agency for health. It was established on April 07, 1948. The objective of the WHO, as set out in its Constitution, is the attainment of the highest possible level of health by all peoples.


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