by Marion Nestle

Search results: kfc

Jul 9 2015

Annals of the nutrition transition: KFC in Myanmar

The nutrition transition is the term used to describe a population’s rapid shift from widespread undernutrition to even more widespread overnutrition and its health consequences.

Here is an example of how that happens.

Thanks to Catherine Normile, currently working in Myanmar, for this report.

The first KFC, and the first major American fast food chain for that matter, opened in Yangon yesterday. I didn’t go inside but I scoped it out, I thought you may be interested to see the incredible crowd outside, and how unfortunate a contribution this is to Yangon’s downtown. It’s on a main road directly across the street from Bogyoke Market, the busiest market in Yangon. My favorite quote comes from this Jakarta Post article: “It is internationally famous, so I think it must be healthy.” Said by a man who queued for 3 hours to get chicken.

Myanmar1

Note the waiting crowd.

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There were long lines to get in.

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The Burmese diet is changing.  Catherine’s previous report was on the influx of Coca-Cola.

I’ll ask again: is anyone tracking changes in health statistics in that country?

Jun 16 2011

The latest in cause marketing: KFC, Pepsi, and diabetes

I collect things like this—examples of food company marketing alliances with health and nutrition organizations that by all rights should be advising their members and clients not to eat much of the company’s products.  This one promotes mega-size Pepsi to raise funds for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This particular treasure comes from a blogger, Joe Tower, who runs a business—“Selfish Giving”—that helps companies do cause marketing.  This one crosses a line, even for him:

I’ve said this before: I don’t have a problem with nonprofits and fast-serve chains doing cause marketing. What I do have a problem with is when fast serve chains like KFC encourage consumers to buy products that directly contribute to the health conditions – in this case diabetes – they are supposedly trying to prevent by partnering with the cause in the first place….What was JDRF thinking? I’m not sure, but I’m calling them today to see if I can find out!

Here are excerpts from the response from JDRF:

We appreciate your concerns and your questions about the banner promoting a JDRF fundraising activity at KFC. Please understand that the fundraiser in question is a local initiative in Utah involving a single KFC franchise owner with a personal type 1 diabetes connection.That said, JDRF values its supporters, both individual and corporate, and their efforts to raise funds to support research aimed at improving lives and curing type 1 diabetes. JDRF carefully reviews national partnership opportunities to ensure that they are appropriate prior to joining corporate campaigns to raise funds.

Regarding this particular promotion, we understand that one of the criticisms has been the association with a sugary product, which many have associated with contributing to diabetes. It’s important to note that JDRF supports research for type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease that results when the immune system attacks the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, therefore requiring a child or adult with the disease to depend on insulin treatment for the rest of their lives. It is a common misconception that type 1 diabetes is caused by obesity or eating too much junk food or sweets.

Finally, JDRF does not endorse any particular products, nor any particular diet. People with type 1 diabetes should work with their healthcare team to determine a diet that works best for them. JDRF fully supports people living with type 1 diabetes engaging in healthy eating habits and lifestyles.

–Gary Feit, National Manager, External Communications, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation

As I find myself saying again and again, you cannot make this stuff up.   And how does Pepsi, now promoting itself as a wellness company, feel about this?

[Thanks to David Schliefer for sending]

Update June 17: I hear rumors attributed to a Pepsi V.P. that the promotion is “no longer running.”

Apr 28 2010

KFC’s Double Down again. Sigh.

I can’t believe I’m writing about the bunless Double Down sandwich for the fourth time (see previous posts), but KFC’s marketing department never ceases to amaze.  In reading the company’s press releases, I somehow missed what KFC is doing with the “missing” buns: donating them to food banks!

When introducing a bunless sandwich, the obvious question is: what happens to all the buns? To celebrate the launch of the Double Down, KFC will do some good by donating the “unneeded” sandwich buns to feed the hungry….it’s great to find a good home for some of those ‘unneeded’ KFC buns at food banks around the country.

The mind, as they say, boggles.  You need go no further to understand why we need a more rational and effective food assistance policy in this country.

Could KFC’s relentless marketing efforts be acts of desperation?  According to Advertising Age (April 19),

The fast-food chain formerly known as Kentucky Fried Chicken seems to have tried everything. It’s changed its name to initials, then back to words, then back to initials. It’s leaned on cheap marketing stunts…most recently, launching the 500-calorie Double Down sandwich, which replaces bread with chicken breasts…KFC’s market share tumbled six full points since 2005 to 30% in 2009, while the category grew from $14.5 billion to $16.1 billion.

Advertising Age says KFC’s measured media advertising budget was a mere $235 million in 2009, and that the Double Down is expected to improve KFC’s fortunes.

No question, the Double Down brought in plenty of free media buzz.  I’ve once again contributed to it, hopefully for the last time.

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Apr 19 2010

KFC as a standard for fast food evaluation? The Double Down Gluttony Index

Statistician Nate Silver uses KFC’s nutritional analysis (which nobody seems to believe, for good reason, as you can see from the added note below) to create a Double Down Index for evaluating the nutritional quality of fast food based on fat, cholesterol, and sodium.

I’ve created an index based on the amount of fat, sodium and cholesterol that the Double Down and a variety of comparable sandwiches contain as a portion of the USDA daily allowance. (In the fat category, saturated fats are counted double and trans-fats are counted triple.) The index is scaled such that the Original Recipe version of the sandwich receives a score of 1.00, a measure of gluttony that will hereafter be known as The Double Down (DD).**

** To calculate Double Downs for your own favorite sandwich, apply the following formula: divide the number of mg of cholesterol by 469, the number of mg of sodium by 3,754, the number of grams of total fat by 133, the number of grams of saturated fat also by 133, and the number of grams of trans-fat by 66. Then sum the result.

He also calibrates Double Downs per Calorie (DDPC): “Take the above result, divide by the number of calories, and multiply by 540.”

His charts are great. Take a look.

Thanks to Richard Einhorn for sending.

Additional note: My NYU colleague Lisa Young, author of The Portion Teller, wrote the company to correct the calorie calculations.  She says:

I’ve done my own calculations for calories obtained from USDAs website….Even the grilled chicken version has nearly 600 calories, and that is without any sauce. Also the actual product looks bigger than the serving size info provided to me which would suggest that the breadless sandwich may even contain more calories than I have listed below.

2 3-oz pieces fried chicken = 441 kcal
2 slices Monterey Jack cheese (1 oz each)=211 kcal
2 slices bacon, medium, cooked= 87 kcal
TOTAL= 739 kcal

2 3-oz pieces grilled chicken = 282 kcal
2 slices Monterey Jack cheese (1 oz each)=211 kcal
2 slices bacon, medium, cooked= 87 kcal
TOTAL=580 kcal

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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.

Apr 13 2010

The new KFC Double Down: not an April fool joke?

Several informants – and students in my NYU Food Ethics class – told me about KFC’s latest sandwich or sent me to stories about it: two slabs of breaded chicken, two slices of bacon, two melted slices of cheese, and sauce.  I checked the KFC website.  Apparently, it’s for real.  There is even a TV Commercial.

And here’s the nutrition information.  Practically a diet product (except for the sodium).  You can’t make up stuff like this.

Sandwich Calories Fat (g) Sodium (mg)
KFC Original Recipe® Double Down 540 32 1380
KFC Grilled Double Down 460 23 1430

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May 7 2009

Oprah, KFC, free advertising, oh my!

This week, Eating Liberally’s kat wants to know what I think about Oprah’s free pass to KFC for adding grilled chicken to its fast food menu.  Here’s what I told her.  The moral: watch out for health auras!

Sep 3 2020

Where are we on cell-based meat alternatives?

Let’s catch up on what’s happening with cell-based meat, so far still in development, regulated jointly by FDA (pre-harvest) and USDA (post-harvest), but not yet approved for human consumption.

I think I can wait.