Hyderabad: Deep-fried chicken pieces from KFC, a popular fast food restaurant chain, have been found to contain strains of E. coli and Salmonella, bacteria that can cause food poisoning in humans.
State Food Laboratory, a public health lab of the Telangana government, reached the conclusion after analysing samples from five KFC outlets in Hyderabad. The samples were provided by AP Balala Hakkula Sangham, an advocacy group for child rights.
The finding by the food laboratory comes at a time of heightened awareness among the general public about the presence of harmful substances in food. Nestle is in the process of recalling Maggi, its ready-to-cook product from stores across the country, after traces of lead were detected in some samples, prompting governments to ban the product. The recall is the largest ever for the Switzerland-headquartered company.
Representatives of Balala Hakkula Sangham collected fried chicken from KFC outlets in Himayatnagar, Vidyanagar, Chikkadpally, ECIL X Road and Nacharam localities on 18 June and submitted them to the state food laboratory located inside the Institute of Preventive Medicine in Hyderabad.
After testing the samples received in a “sealed and labelled cardboard box kept in brown colour paper,“ the lab concluded in a report dated 24 June that the “dark brown coloured fried food pieces" were unsafe for consumption.
“I am of the opinion that the sample contains E. coli and salmonella which are pathogens and injurious to health," food analyst AV Krishna Kumari concluded. “It is, therefore, unsafe."
KFC refuted the finding. A company spokesperson dismissed it as a false allegation and an attempt to “wrongly malign" the US-based food chain’s brand reputation.
“We have no knowledge of the sample being collected from any of our stores and in what condition it has been transported for this alleged test. This is a perishable food item meant for immediate consumption," KFC said in a statement.
E. coli thrives in meat not cooked to 71 degree Celsius. The US department of agriculture recommends poultry products be heated to 74 degree Celsius to prevent a salmonella infection.
KFC said there was “no possibility of any microbial development" in its food because it is cooked at 170 degrees Celsius.
The company on Thursday night said it hadn’t received any intimation from authorities and would seek clarification from them.
“Children don’t know what’s good for their health," Anuradha Rao, president of Balala Hakkula Sangham said. “We regularly get popular food products tested in the interest of child rights."
The organization earlier got milk, Lays potato chips and Maggi tested by the state food laboratory.