There are no eight-legged chickens with six wings, and KFC didn’t cook them up and serve them to Chinese patrons. That’s their story and they’re sticking to it.
KFC is suing three different Chinese companies for 1.5 million Yuan, about $242,000, over rumors they started on social media to discredit the fast food restaurant.
The rumors circulating online accuse KFC of serving patrons genetically modified chickens it designed to have eight legs and six wings, KFC’s Chinese President Qu Cuirong told the BBC.
“This not only seriously misled consumers, but also hurt our brand.”
Chinese online marketers have been known to post false rumors about competitors, and KFC is the largest restaurant in the country, with 4,828 outlets at the end of last year, according to the BBC.
KFC says it also wants an apology along with the money for the rumors spread on the WeChat app that went viral with 4,000 reposts on the Chinese Internet.
The case in Shanghai court comes as the Chinese government tries to clamp down on this sort of false advertising over the Internet.
The cleanup campaign began two years ago as part of an effort to suppress criticism of the Communist Party, but has now spread to include negative rumors on social media, Cuirong told the San Francisco Chronicle.
“The stepped-up efforts by the government in recent years to purify the online environment, as well as some judicial interpretations, have offered us confidence and weapons.”
The KFC lawsuit names Shanxi Weilukuang Technology Company Ltd., Taiyuan Zero Point Technology Company, and Yingchenanzhi Success and Culture Communication Ltd. as defendants.
Yum Brands, KFC’s parent company, was forced to change Chinese meat suppliers last year after accusations surfaced they unknowingly bought out of date meat, according to the BBC.
This week’s Chinese lawsuit follows another social media scandal earlier this year, where South African KFC workers were caught on film hosing down chicken pieces outside on a dirty cement floor, according to the Inquisitr.
The shocking video was retweeted 2,000 times, and the Braamfontein restaurant in South Africa was forced to close its doors pending an investigation.
These scandals have done nothing to improve KFC’s bottom line, as the fast food giant struggles to recover from a damaging documentary aired in the U.K. in March.
The Billion Dollar Chicken Shop shows U.K. chickens living in claustrophobic conditions amid their excrement in conditions called “oppressive” by activists, according to the Inquisitr.
The Chinese arm of KFC hopes to avoid these and other scandals by filing its lawsuit to stop the false eight legged chicken rumors.