Staff blunder behind photos, says KFC

Cell phone footage and two photographs of staff cleaning chicken pieces on concrete flooring at KFC in Braamfontein caused a ruckus on social media in May 2015. Photo: Facebook / Mfumo Bamuza
"We have already dealt very firmly with the franchisee and the responsible people involved," said KFC Africa managing director Doug Smart after thousands shared images of two staff members cleaning chicken in a yard at the chain's Braamfontein store. Photo: Facebook / Mfumo Bamuza
Managing director of KFC Africa, Doug Smart, insisted the chicken in this photograph, at the back of KFC in Braamfontein, "was never intended for sale to customers and at no time was any customer at risk" following an outcry on Twitter and Facebook. Photo: Facebook / Mfumo Bamuza

JOHANNESBURG – On Monday, members of the press were invited to visit KFC in Braamfontein, following a public outcry over images of staff cleaning chicken on the concrete floor.

But KFC Africa managing director Doug Smart said the chicken seen in the photographs was never intended for consumption.

Rather, Smart explained, the two staff members in the images were rinsing breading mixture from chicken pieces which were about to be discarded. They had not correctly inspected the meat before coating it in the flour mixture,, which contains the colonel’s secret seasoning of herbs and spices.

Photographs and a video of the two staff members at the Braamfontein outlet, which were taken by a resident at an apartment overlooking the yard, showed the staff washing chicken on a concrete floor, using a fire hose in one image, with white buckets nearby.

During the media tour on Monday, KFC chief executive Jason Kerr pointed out the two white buckets are used to keep "imperfect" chicken that is discarded weekly. Kerr said they were the same buckets in the photographs.

Public outrage at the sight of the staff members with drumsticks and other chicken pieces on the floor in a dirty yard was so great that the company issued a full-page advertisement in the Sunday World newspaper on May 10, 2015.

"We're sorry," began the message in bold, red writing. "We want to say sorry from the bottom of our hearts, for what happened at our restaurant in Braamfontein." 

Two days earlier, on May 8, 2015, KFC expressed dismay at the material via social media, telling more than 42,000 followers it was equally as shocked by the images. The same day, the Braamfontein branch was temporarily closed for investigations into the images. Trade resumed later the same day.

Speaking to Business Day on Monday, Smart described the incident as a watershed case for the food chain.

“We have never seen something like this‚" he said.

In December last year, The Star reported on another KFC scandal, this time involving dishonest employees.

The Durban Labour Court supported the retailers’ decision to fire 11 employees for stealing 265 pieces of chicken, 63kg of chips and hundreds of cans of cooldrink.

In July 2013, Chinese airport officials reprimanded a passenger travelling from Guangzhou to Beijing for attempting to smuggle a tortoise on board a flight, concealed in a KFC burger.

The passenger reportedly told authorities he wanted to travel with his "beloved tortoise" and that is why he hid the reptile.

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