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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Please note:

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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Introduction Contd...

Though the lawsuit was dropped because Kraft Foods had initiated steps to reduce trans fats in its cookies, it prompted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration9 (FDA) to announce, in July 2003, that trans fat labeling would become mandatory with effect from January 2006.

Analysts noted that KFC's decision to switch to zero trans fat cooking oil was indication of the growing pressure on food companies from healthcare activists and consumer advocacy groups. Earlier, in June 2006, a retired physician had filed a lawsuit against KFC to stop it from making use of the partially hydrogenated soybean oil that was high in trans fats.

Some activists said that popular fast food companies like KFC could at least use some labels or signs to make their customers aware of the level of trans fats in their food products. Given the growing public concern about trans fats, in December 2006, the New York City's Board of Health voted for a ban on artificial trans fats in food items served at restaurants and bakeries from November 2008.

Apart from KFC, several other major players in the fast food industry like Dunkin' Donuts, Burger King, Wendy's International, Inc. and Starbucks Corporation were also in the process of eliminating trans fats from their menu items.

Following the completion of its switchover to zero trans fat cooking oil, in May 2007, KFC released a 15-second TV commercial that promoted the fact that KFC's famous chicken contained zero trans fats. However, despite taking steps to eliminate trans fats in its menu, KFC had to confront criticism. Nutrition experts felt that eating too much food that has been fried in oil, even if it were free from trans fats, would also lead to obesity and heart disease.

Background Note

KFC or Kentucky Fried Chicken, headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky, US, is a leading chicken restaurant chain. KFC's history can be traced back to 1930 when Harland Sanders established his first restaurant "Sanders Court & Café" in Corbin, Kentucky, US.

In 1936, Harland Sanders was given an honorary Kentucky Colonel in recognition of his contributions to the state's cuisine.10 In 1940, Colonel Sanders developed a recipe for fried chicken which became known as the "Original Recipe." This recipe of eleven herbs and spices is a closely guarded secret that is kept under lock and key in a vault in Louisville. Over the years, this secret recipe has become one of the key features of the KFC brand...

Excerpts >>

9] The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the United States is the government agency that is responsible for regulating food (human and animal), dietary supplements, drugs (human and animal), cosmetics, medical devices (human and animal), biologics, and blood products in the US.



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