Bad Week for the Colonel: Attacks from The Onion and the PCRM


Some days you just want to retire to your rocking chair with a big mint julep, I mean, really. First, we learn from the Onion that the FCC has ordered KFC to "discontinue all broadcasts containing "false and misleading suggestions" that its heated chicken products are intended for consumption."

"KFC's claim that its fried offerings have 'that taste you'll just love to eat' is in direct violation of federal regulations," acting FCC chairman Michael Copps said. "The word 'eat' is legally permissible only in reference to substances appropriate for human consumption. Any implication that a consumer could or should 'enjoy' a KFC Crispy Strip fails to meet these standards, and presents an unlawful deception to consumers."

Then, to compound the Colonel's misery, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) found that the new "better-for-you chicken for health-conscious customers" Kentucky Grilled Chicken is full of cancer-causing heterocyclic amines.


The PCRM reports:

A PCRM scientist visited six different KFC stores, obtained two samples from each location, and sent them to an independent testing laboratory. All 12 samples were found to contain PhIP, a chemical classified as a carcinogen by the federal government. PhIP, part of a chemical family known as heterocyclic amines (HCAs), has been linked to several forms of cancer, including breast cancer, in dozens of scientific studies. No safe level of ingestion has been identified. Every sample also tested positive for at least one additional type of HCA.

"Just as the fat and cholesterol in fried chicken have prompted concerns about heart attacks and obesity, the carcinogenic chemicals found in Kentucky Grilled Chicken raise serious concerns about cancer risk," said Kristie Sullivan, M.P.H., a PCRM toxicologist. "No parent would knowingly serve carcinogens to a child, and parents have no idea these chemicals are in KFC products. We are asking KFC to withdraw Kentucky Grilled Chicken."

Now the PCRM is being a bit disingenuous here, perhaps trying to capitalize on the promotion of KFC grilled chicken on Oprah Winfrey as a healthier alternative to fried chicken; according to the National Cancer Institute, heterocyclic amines are produced whenever muscle meat is cooked. It has nothing to do with KFC and in fact can be worse with home cooking.

One study has evaluated the content of HCAs in fast food restaurants. After evaluating five kinds of meat products from various fast food restaurant chains, the study concluded that there were low levels of HCAs found in fast food meat products due to factors such as cooking temperature and time. The study suggested that greater exposure to HCAs stems from home cooking and cooking in non-fast-food restaurants where food may be cooked to order and where a larger amount of meat is consumed.

So eating a KFC grilled chicken is really no worse than any other meat in the shop, or any other fast food shop either. Perhaps it is just another reason to go vegetarian.

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