*This article had been updated with comment from the National Consumer Commission.
The owner of the Braamfontein KFC restaurant has been instructed to stop the policy that he introduced just weeks ago relating to discarded chicken, after staff was caught on camera washing chicken on a concrete floor.
Focus on wastage
KFC Africa Managing Director Doug Smart told Health24 although KFC has a standard process for discarding chicken, the owner introduced further measures.
"The franchisee of the Braamfontein restaurant places a significant focus on wastage and implemented a policy four weeks ago outlining that chicken that would later be discarded should not be breaded to avoid wasting the breading mix," Smart said.
He said staff members are required to store the discarded stock in the freezer, which is later collected to be counted in order to assess how much has been wasted.
Smart said in this specific instance, staff had breaded the chicken before realising it didn’t meet KFC's requirements.
Why the seasoning was washed off
"The team members then tried to wash the breading off so as to avoid getting into trouble for not following the correct process and unnecessarily wasting breading," he explained.
"KFC feels that the policy the franchisee implemented is unnecessary and have instructed him to remove it," said Smart. "We can confirm this has been done."
He pointed out that members are required to inspect the chicken before breading it, but they are also encouraged to discard it at any point if found to be unsuitable.
"The franchisee has explained to the staff that his policy should not have been implemented in the first place and that no one should ever be punished for mistakenly breading chicken that doesn’t meet our requirements and then disposing of it," he said.
Commenting on the well-being of KFC customers, Smart emphasised that the fast food chain strives to ensure their food is 100% safe to eat.
What control measures are in place
"All KFC restaurants receive Restaurant Operations Compliance Checks (ROCC) to make sure high quality standards are maintained." He said these processes are controlled and monitored in restaurants by a specialised team who make sure operational procedures are actioned and adhered to.
Smart noted that KFC also has strict processes in place when it comes to food disposal. "The raw and cooked chickens are always kept separate and are sealed in designated bags that are clearly labelled. These bags are placed in distinct containers and stored for collection."
KFC took swift action after consumers went into a state of panic, over the weekend after images and a video emerged of staff hosing down chicken, thinking that they could have been served the chicken.
“We want our customers to know that we take this very seriously and have taken action to make sure this does not happen again,” said Smart.
The Braamfontein restaurant was temporarily closed to get to the bottom of the incident. KFC also took to social media and ran a full page print advertisement to apologise to consumers.
The store was closed while we investigated & we're relieved to find out that this was discarded chicken, never intended to be sold.— KFC South Africa (@KFCSA) May 8, 2015
KFC full-page ad to apologise for Braamfontein branch debacle. Don't know many brands with the courage to say sorry pic.twitter.com/LZYhFexKTp— Patrick Conroy (@PatrickConroySA) May 10, 2015
On Monday the media was also invited for a visit at the Braamfontein outlet highlighting its quality control systems.
Smart told Health24 that the group also met with the National Consumer Commission (NCC) who is probing the matter.
“The commissioner was satisfied with the discussion and we are working together with the NCC on this matter and are providing all the supporting evidence they require to close the case,” he said.
An inspection will take place
NCC spokesperson Trevor Hattingh told Health24 the meeting with KFC’s management was to gain an understanding of the incident.
He said the commission requested certain documentation from the company, which includes their investigation report.
"The commission will conduct an inspection at the Braamfontein premises as well as assess amongst others, standard operating procedures and policies of KFC upon receipt of these documents."
Hattingh pointed out that consumers should be more aware of basic quality standards when purchasing food at fast food restaurants.