by Marion Nestle
Apr 17 2010

Can KFC help prevent breast cancer?

Really, you can’t make this stuff up.  KFC has a new promotion with Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the group that raises funds to fight breast cancer.  The campaign is called “Buckets for the Cure.”

Participating KFC franchise locations will be selling specially designed pink buckets of grilled and Original Recipe chicken. KFC has pledged 50 cents to Komen for every pink bucket ordered by its restaurant operators during the promotion period, with a minimum donation of $1 million and a goal to raise more than $8 million. Twenty-five percent of the funds raised will be earmarked to Komen’s 120-plus domestic Affiliates for breast cancer programs in their communities. The remainder of the funds will support Komen’s national research and community programs.

OK, scientists are still arguing about the dietary determinants of breast cancer and aren’t too worried about fat, but they do worry about body weight.  Maintaining a healthy body weight is still the first recommendation of the American Cancer Society, for example.  Isn’t this campaign an incentive to buy as many buckets of KFC as you can?

On the topic of KFC’s pink buckets: the Dogwood Alliance is collecting signatures on a petition to stop KFC from destroying forests to make them in any color.

KFC buys from International Paper, a company notorious for “business as usual” destructive forest management practices like large-scale clearcutting, conversion of natural forests to plantations and reliance on toxic chemicals in forest management.

Dogwood wants KFC to use more environmentally friendly packaging for its buckets.  It has collected more than 9,000 signatures so far.  Here’s where you can add yours.

Addition, May 1: Thanks to Michelle Simon for forwarding this clip from Colbert.  A must-see.  It starts after the worm story at 1:15.

  • Neil

    Anything to get people in the door.

  • I saw this ad on TV the other day and was baffled! Enticing people to buy something unhealthy because it’s for “a godd cause”. I am all for fighting breast cancer, but not with chicken.

  • Lynn

    I’m beginning to question the Komen Foundation more and more.

  • I don’t know whether to be shocked, in awe (disgust), or proud.

  • Anthro

    I signed the petition–thanks for the link.

    This is just another “reputation marketing” scam to associate a product name with good deeds and community involvement. Charities need to start taking a closer look at where their money comes from and develop some policies that reflect public health interests.

  • Jen

    Maybe someone should give them a copy of The China Study?

    Fighting breast cancer by eating animal products? Not. making. sense.

  • ET Addison

    Okay Marion.

    Again, instead of sniping from the sidelines, what would YOU suggest KFC do?

    Or better yet, give us an example of an ‘evil corporation’ (sort of like the corportations that publish your books, the ones who chop down do many trees to print your books). . . give us an example of a corporation that is actually doing the ‘right thing’ as you see it.

    Name one. Please. Name a company that is doing something right.

    Stop sniping and critiquing. Say something positive.

    Who is doing something right?

    Or, in your position, is every company hopelessly corrupt?

  • Subvert

    @ ET Addison – I’d be curious to see your list of do-gooders and great things corporations are doing around the world. Please post your link for us.

    While I find it is not good to live on the pessimistic side of life and look at a half-full glass all the time, I do believe it is better to be aware and point out injustices and obvious shenanigans to a broader audience when you see them. We can do that, in hopes of creating enough disgust and distrust, which might fuel a movement towards change for the better…or alas, we could just bury our heads in the sand.

  • Christine

    The purpose of a corporation is to make profit. I understand that. What makes me (and presumably Marion) raise an eyebrow, is when a corporation that makes money by selling unhealthy products claims a desire to improve health. It’s almost always a marketing/PR move, intended to help sell more of the unhealthy products, since no publicly-owned corporation would commit suicide by not making all the profits it could. Marion’s work is a wake-up call to all of the people who are unfortunately duped into buying more junk because of the healthy claims these companies make. I am sure that there are people who see the ads and think “Oh wow! KFC is helping cure breast cancer! I should buy a bucket!”

    BTW at the KFC on 14th st and 2nd ave in NYC, they’ve got the ads for the breast cancer bucket and the double down right next to each other. I walked past and was in total disbelief.

  • Ingrid

    I think Lynn’s comment is interesting. Does KFC need the Komen Foundation’s blessing to use its name and other marks in ads and on product? Can we really blame KFC? We all know the corporation’s purpose is to make a profit. So, what should the foundation’s role be? If Komen thinks it is worth it, is it?

  • Emily

    Furthermore, I just can’t believe that factory-raised chicken (or beef, or pork, or eggs, or milk) has anything but deleterious health effects. That stuff is swimming in hormones and animal feces, among other nasties.

  • If only the general public was as astute as the commenters here! Unfortunately, most of them are easily duped by marketing such as this.
    Yes, corporations only care about making profit. That’s actually their mission statement as defined by law! They don’t care what it takes, or if they cause harm.

  • Sheila

    Just when I think I have heard it all…from out in left field comes another case of “They did what??!!”

  • KFC’s new promotion can easily be considered a contradiction due to the fact that they are known for selling unhealthy (and fat I should say) products. What we need to understand is that this is an organization that seeks profit; therefore, they will try to design their marketing efforts to link them to a healthy image. But we need to recover the fact that they have been trying to offer healthy products as well. The grilled chicken is an example. In a fast food perspective, it seems pretty much what they can do.

  • Sarah

    Can’t remember the last time I ate KFC, but for me a sign saying “Susan G Komen” would discourage me from eating it by reminding me of cancer! (And stuff that causes cancer). I also never buy charity branded products because I find it misleading and an inefficient way to contribute to charity. Also let’s not forget those “charity” yogurts- they have as much sugar as ice cream.

  • Susan Priano

    Susan G. Komen for the Cure: expllains their partnership with KFC: Get a load of this bucket of S—! Our partnership focuses on healthy options at KFC – grilled chicken and vegetables, for example. Ultimately, we believe that the decision to maintain a well-balanced diet lies in the hands of the consumer. KFC provides tools to make those choices, by providing a healthy choice menu and advice on its website on how consumers can limit fat and calorie consumption in its products.

  • betty

    Umm, the “grilled chicken” is not healthier. It has less fat, but it still has hormones, antibiotics, chemicals, shit (literally) and other stuff in it. If they were truly encouraging people to eat healthier there, the vegetable bags would be pink too. They’re not. Better yet, they would have picked a healthier restaurant chain to partner with. So, don’t give me this media spin that there are healthy choices there. And in regards to Komen’s comment that they’re doing this to ‘reach people they normally wouldn’t reach’. Bullshit. Where are they going to ‘reach’ next – bars, adult magazine stores, gambling boats? What a joke.

  • betty

    P.S. And please explain to me why on the Komen website there is NO…NONE…NADA information on nutrition, vitamin D, minerals, etc. Not even under the section titled ‘factors that affect breast cancer’. It’s all about big pharma/medicine and ‘give us your money’. There will never be a cure for cancer. It’s to big of a ‘business’ for too many people. What senior leader at Komen thought this was a great idea and approved this? Stunningly stupid.

  • Thanks for this post. It is a truly offensive and harmful alliance. Breast Cancer Action’s “What the Cluck?” campaign is calling out KFC and Susan G. Komen for the Cure on this pinkwashing partnership. Almost 1,000 people from all over the country have written to them to denounce this pinkwashing. You can find the campaign here:

  • Paul

    Just as I suspected, the Susan G Komen foundation belongs in the same category as the Amercian Diabetes Association…the category is named (by me) “ORGANIZATIONS THAT SAY THEY”RE SEARCHING FOR A CURE, BUT ARE NOT REALLY, BECAUSE THEN THEY WOULDN’T BE IN EXISTANCE” I mean, when I think of cancer, the first thing I think about is “what are you eating?”. Is it real food without any chemicals, grown or raised organically, withound flavor enhancers(msg) and lots of other crap/chemicals?

  • Robert

    I think its a great idea to get any corporation to donate monies for breat cancer’s cure. The money from purchasing goes somewhere so why not to a worthy cause? Watching my mother and wife suffer and die from this horrific disease leaves even more determined to fight for a cure. Thanks KFC, me and millions of others appreciate your philanthropy and don’t agree with the hypocrites and petty arrogant naysayers.

  • Haley

    As someone whose family has been touched by breast cancer I applaud organizations that raise money to help find a cure for this dreaded disease. I think one reason these organizations (Komen, Red Cross, St. Judes, American Cancer Society etc…) look to corporations for funding is that they have the ability to give large sums of money that can be use to help further the cause they believe in. How else are they going to raise money? I was reading somewhere that Komen was the #1 most trusted charity that people want to give to and this is based on how judicially they spend the money they receive. IF this is the case then I do not see a problem with it. I mean how much money can you raise by passing the hat and I would think it takes a lot to fund research.

  • DC

    The Susan G. Komen Foundation is a cancer industry front group funded by Big Pharma. They need KFC to sell cancer-causing foods to the sheeple while part of the proceeds from the Buckets Of Death go to fund Big Pharma’s lap dogs. Ms. Komen must be turning in her grave at how her name is being used to kill people.

  • Screw ’em!

    Here’s what my wife and I did and proposed to the listeners of our podcast. Donate the cost of a bucket of chicken directly to Komen and have a meal at home in lieu of going out to KFC.

  • Rachel

    What about the fact that it has to do with how many buckets the restaurant buys, not how many the consumer buys. It’s one more sneaky way to get us to help contribute to their pocketbooks while thinking we have some sort of impact on the world.

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