BANGKOK, Thailand — KFC International, the American-based fast-food
behemoth, has found itself caught up in a 21st-century propaganda war
which threatens the down-home, folksy image of Colonel Sanders. The
Colonel, long an icon overseas of the American way of life — a symbol
of “metalanguage” like Coca-Cola, baseball and McDonalds — has now been
targeted with a massive e-mail disinformation chain letter that is
wreaking havoc upon the organization in Thailand, not to mention
elsewhere around Asia and the world.
At the center of this cyber storm is an e-mail that has been making
the rounds of the Internet in recent weeks. It reads as follows:
“KFC has been a part of our American traditions for many years. Many
people, day in and day out, eat at KFC religiously. Do they really know
what they are eating? During a recent study of KFC done at the
University of New Hampshire, they found some very upsetting facts. First
of all, has anybody noticed that just recently, the company has changed
their name? Kentucky Fried Chicken has become KFC. Does anybody know
why? We thought the real reason was because of the ‘FRIED’ food issue.
It’s not. The reason why they call it KFC is because they cannot use the
word ‘chicken’ anymore. Why?
“KFC does not use real chickens. They actually use genetically
manipulated organisms. These so called ‘chickens’ are kept alive by
tubes inserted into their bodies to pump blood and nutrients throughout
their structure. They have no beaks, no feathers, and no feet. Their
bone structure is dramatically shrunk to get more meat out of them. This
is great for KFC because they do not have to pay so much for their
production costs. There is no more plucking of the feathers or the
removal of the beaks and feet.
“The [United States] government has told them to change all of their
menus so they do not say ‘chicken’ anywhere. If you look closely you
will notice this. Listen to their commercials, I guarantee you will not
see or hear the word ‘chicken.’ I find this matter to be very
disturbing. I hope people will start to realize this and let other
people know. Please forward this message to as many people as you can.
Together we make KFC start using real chicken again.”
While the e-mail chain letter might seem questionable, absurd and even
preposterous — as a matter of fact, it is completely false — it has generated shock
waves in fast-food circles in Thailand, reaching to the highest levels
of corporate society.
To begin with, GMO or “genetically modified organisms” are a touchy
subject in Thailand, whose huge GMO cotton crop has been called into
question as unfit for export to the GMO-septic European Union. As such,
the KFC-GMO e-mail scare is being treated as serious business within the
fabled Kingdom of Siam.
Suwanna Usanachitt, the managing director of KFC International,
Thailand branch, said that KFC has posted information on its corporate
website to counter the propaganda spread by the erroneous e-mail chain
letter. That information can be found at KFC’s website, on which the company states: “Our chicken is
purchased through many of the same suppliers that you might find in
your local grocery store. Our poultry meets or exceeds USDA standards.
Plus, it must pass our own rigorous
internal quality guidelines.”
Usanachitt said, “The GMO rumor was previously widespread in the U.S.
Now it has spread to Thailand. … We are taking the problem of the
rumors very seriously.”
KFC International believes the rumors began shortly after the recent
spat between the U.S. and European Union in global trade talks over GMO
In Thailand, 90 percent of KFC’s chickens are supplied by a company
named Charoen Pokphand. Adirek Sripratak, the vice president of CPF Plc.
– a subsidiary of CP Group and a major player in the fast-food chicken
industry in Thailand — said that the “Chickens supplied to KFC are free
from GMO, as the group exports chickens to Europe and Japan, which has
strict regulations against genetically-modified food.”
Adirek added that he was “confident that the quality of chicken
supplied to KFC restaurants met international health standards and that
no GMO source was involved.”
“Part of our supplies come from contract farms which rely on national
farming methods and feeding processes. They do not inject any
chemical-based growth substances into the chickens,” he added. The use
of growth accelerators is considered “toxic residue” by industry
Other chemical processes involved in chicken farming include
injecting chemicals in the form of capsules under the skin of the
chickens to prompt the fowl to ingest double the normal level of feed
with the aim of faster development. The latter process is only used in
sterilized chickens, which rank as only 5 percent of CPF Plc.’s total
supply, according to a company spokesman.
CPF Plc. operates a plethora of chicken farms around Thailand, raising
16 million chickens every month. More than 50 percent of all chickens
raised are designated for export.
“We only inject vaccines to prevent our chickens from diseases and no
chemical substances are fed to accelerate their growth,” added Adirek.
WorldNetDaily acquired the e-mail chain letter from Korean-American
Susan McDonald, an English teacher and television actress based in South
Korea. McDonald is a graduate of Columbia University in New York.
According to the University of New Hampshire’s website, “the hoax includes reference to
an unspecified study of KFC done at the University of New Hampshire and
there is no such research or study that was done here.”
A spokesman for the American Chamber of Commerce in Bangkok said that
she had only recently been made aware of the KFC-GMO e-mail chain letter
and, as such, was not prepared to comment.
Numerous Thai nationals interviewed by WorldNetDaily expressed shock,
surprise and even horror when presented with the contents of the KFC-GMO
e-mail chain letter.
“It sounds horrible,” said one Thai mother of two small children. “I
don’t think I would want to eat at KFC anymore if that’s how the
chickens are produced.”
Rachel Bernard, a Seattle-based surgeon on vacation in Thailand
scoffed at the contents of the e-mail when presented to him by
WorldNetDaily at a local KFC restaurant.
“I can tell you this e-mail letter is a fraud,” she said matter-of-factly.
“No such machinery exists. It’s beyond current science. I think the
KFC people should be looking into who launched the e-mail. Was it Burger
King or Pizza Hut or some other competitor?”
Why would so many people believe the contents of the e-mail?
“It just shows you the power of the Internet in the modern world,”
said Bernard. “American students lack math, science and logic skills.
They are filled with sci-fi propaganda from Star Trek and The X-Files.
People will believe anything. The whole world has become one big ‘Wag-the-Dog’ scenario. But if, as an American, you can’t trust in Colonel
Sanders, then really, who can you trust?”
Anthony C. LoBaido is an
international correspondent for WorldNetDaily.