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KFC Takes Back Its Middle Name. Can Big Food Make Fat Phat?


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April 28, 2005

KFC Takes Back Its Middle Name. Can Big Food Make Fat Phat?

David Kiley

Kentucky Fried Chicken finally woke up and is planning to take back its middle name and give up the monogram brand, KFC, it has used for several years when its marketers thought "Fried" was a dirty word.

I have worked in the food industry before, right in the kitchen. Believe me. The fry oil is dirty. But it's what gives golden pieces of chicken and french fries the mouth coating addictive feeling of "I gotta get me some fried chicken and french fries."

The food industry is going through an interesting period. A report out of the Centers for Disease Control recently said about 112,000 deaths in 2000 were blamed on obesity, much lower than a highly publicized figure released in March 2004 when other CDC researchers estimated that about 400,000 deaths were associated with obesity, poor diet and inactivity.

There is traction right now in the marketplace for an argument that states obesity is not the problem the food police have made it out to be. This stems largely from the CDC's back-tracking and the fact that the insurance company weight tables that obesity rates are based on are out-dated. And they are off-base. At 5'11, I should weigh around 170 pounds. I don't. And I never will. That's not to say that I can't live healthfully at 190 or 210. So at 210, if I can ever get there, would I be obese? Nah.

The larger number from the CDC's earlier study includes obese and overweight people. The smaller number includes only the obese--30 pounds or more over a healthy weight. About a third of Americans are obese and are at increased risk for diabetes, heart disease and other diseases.

Back to KFC. They are going back to Fried and using Colonel Sanders (as this blog recommended months ago) because they find the fried food they have sells best--much better than the so-called healthy stuff. Last year, KFC got slapped by the FTC for stretching ad claims that suggested a KFC fried chicken breast was healthier than a Burgher King Whopper. Sure, it has slightly less total fat and saturated fat than a Whopper, but it has more than three times the trans fat and cholesterol, more than twice the sodium, and more calories, the FTC said. They added that the suggestion that fried chicken could be part of a low-carb diet was false because such programs like the Atkins Diet and the South Beach Diet advise against eating breaded, fried foods.

So, now its no more apologizing for fat, grease and salt. A Kentucky Fried Chicken spokesperson says: "Consumers tell us they love Kentucky Fried Chicken. And many of our customers never stopped calling us Kentucky Fried Chicken." Bravo. Truth in advertising.

I can't help but draw a comparison between what KFC is doing and what the Republican Party has done so well to galvanize its base. It doesn't pretend to be green. It doesn't applogize for driving SUVs. It has made "liberal" a dirty word and painted the Dems with it until the mass media has basically adopted "liberal" as a four letter word.

There is something to be said, right or wrong, for the success of staying on message.

01:55 PM

Food

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Well, tell you the truth, KFC is not such a big company here in Colombia; some years ago it used to lead the fast-food market but it does not anymore. Mc Donald's is one of the leading ones, sharing this position with other local restaurants, but even though is temting you have to keep in mind the dark, nasty oil in wich those greasy wedges and the 'golden' chicken is fried. But at the other end, if they decided to stop hiding their middle name is because deep inside people like those fat products and by those means tell everybody there is nothing to shame on when eating fried food in their restaurants. Thanks God we do not like that much fried chicken!!

Posted by: David David at April 28, 2005 10:50 PM

Oh well, and to think they could have committed to using Free-range chickens and both kept the F and gotten an ethical boost to boot. There's never any accounting for corporate "logic".

On the other hand, even successful brands can get "tired", so a modest degree of "reinvention" can indeed work wonders.

-- Jack Krupansky

Posted by: Jack Krupansky at May 15, 2005 01:07 PM

I remember many times coming away from KFC with nothing but a boxload of their magnificent crispy fries (potatos better than beef jerkey!). It was the end of my heavy patronage when they were replaced by those tasteless whimp-wedgies.

Posted by: Foster Blake at July 4, 2005 02:41 PM

its really good

Posted by: tash at September 30, 2005 03:04 AM

Gloucester Daily Times December 7, 2005

News

Government says sell the chicken

Stephen Kelleher, president of Proteus.

By Richard Gaines

Staff writer

Proteus Industries, the Gloucester laboratory whose fat-blocking, moisture-retaining process unlocked markets for the fish products of Good Harbor Fillet, just got the key to the much larger world of chicken nuggets.

Proteus was notified last month that the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration have deemed the protein the company extracts from chicken parts to be "generally recognized as safe" when applied back to chicken pieces for baking and frying.

The finding is the federal seal of approval.

"We know it works," food chemist and Proteus founder Stephen Kelleher said yesterday. "It should be an easy stretch to validate it commercially."Kelleher said the "big companies" have called and "there's a lot of interest from big players." They see greater market share, he said, in making "chicken nuggets and things like that contain lower fat and taste better."Kelleher said that while Americans eat an average of between 11 and 14 pounds of fish a year, they consume more than 100 pounds of chicken."Marketing of poultry is massive compared to fish," he said with a smile.Good Harbor Fillet, his licensing partner in fish products coated with the patented protein, has recently forged into Stop & Shop and a growing number of school systems — including Gloucester's. This is based on the improved taste and lower fat of fish covered in Proteus' liquid protein before breading and baking or frying.Nationwide, school systems have been struggling to find nutritious foods that children want.The first systems to order Proteus-protected Good Harbor fish products were South Carolina's and Akron, Ohio's. Students of the New York City system are testing Good Harbor/Proteus. William Stride, founder and president of Good Harbor, said the Gloucester schools recently decided to serve Proteus-protected fish products as a lunch entree beginning next year. He said Stop & Shop has received "very favorable" reactions from shoppers to Good Harbor's products featuring the Proteus protein under the "Healthy Choice" label. The chain is rolling out the Healthy Choice line throughout eastern New England. Good Harbor is supporting the rollout with radio advertising whose complex pitch is "a revolutionary process that brings you the crispiest, best-tasting fish, without oil, added fat and zero trans fat."The Food and Drug Administration, acting on a mountain of scientific evidence, recently began to push the nation away from fast foods, including fried chicken, infused with "trans fats," or trans fatty acids. They came into wide use as a replacement for unhealthy saturated fats.Beginning in January, prepared foods will be required for the first time to list the heart-disease-causing trans fats. Stride said by 2007, his entire line of prepared, breaded frozen fish products would be converted to Proteus technology.Stride partnered with Kelleher three years ago. He offered Proteus chemists space in his newly built processing plant in Blackburn Industrial Park for research. It made Good Harbor fish the test meat for the patented process.Stride yesterday said, "Categorically, it will work with a breaded piece of chicken. It's easier to manipulate chicken protein (than fish protein)."He said the "generally recognized as safe" finding — or GRAS — would allow the chicken industry to sell lower-fat-fried and baked products and put to use the waste pieces of chicken from which Proteus extracts the pure protein that is then used as a tasteless coating beneath the breading.It is the semi-impermeable coating that holds in moisture and keeps out the cooking oil.Kelleher and his crew of food chemists took many years to perfect the isolation of fish protein from fish products, but less time adapting the science to other meats. "Proteus protein is generally recognized as safe through scientific procedures for use in finished poultry products of the same species as the extracted poultry protein," the FDA reported in a Nov. 18 letter to Proteus' Washington attorney, Robert Hibbert. "The poultry protein is intended for use as a water binding agent and as a coating to increase moisture retention and to reduce fat absorption in the final cooked product."The FDA said it "has no question at this time regarding Proteus' conclusion that the poultry protein is GRAS when produced as described and used under the intended conditions of use." Kelleher declined to identify "the big companies" that have come calling since the FDA ruling but noted his board faces a pivotal decision: Whether to license the process to a single-chicken product company — as it did with Good Harbor with fish — or offer it broadly into one of the nation's largest prepared food sectors.Kelleher previously revealed he was planning to build a plant to extract chicken protein from what is now considered waste pieces.

Proteus Industries, the Gloucester laboratory whose fat-blocking, moisture-retaining process unlocked markets for the fish products of Good Harbor Fillet, just got the key to the much larger world of chicken nuggets.

Proteus was notified last month that the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration have deemed the protein the company extracts from chicken parts to be "generally recognized as safe" when applied back to chicken pieces for baking and frying.

The finding is the federal seal of approval.

"We know it works," food chemist and Proteus founder Stephen Kelleher said yesterday. "It should be an easy stretch to validate it commercially."Kelleher said the "big companies" have called and "there's a lot of interest from big players." They see greater market share, he said, in making "chicken nuggets and things like that contain lower fat and taste better."Kelleher said that while Americans eat an average of between 11 and 14 pounds of fish a year, they consume more than 100 pounds of chicken."Marketing of poultry is massive compared to fish," he said with a smile.Good Harbor Fillet, his licensing partner in fish products coated with the patented protein, has recently forged into Stop & Shop and a growing number of school systems — including Gloucester's. This is based on the improved taste and lower fat of fish covered in Proteus' liquid protein before breading and baking or frying.Nationwide, school systems have been struggling to find nutritious foods that children want.The first systems to order Proteus-protected Good Harbor fish products were South Carolina's and Akron, Ohio's. Students of the New York City system are testing Good Harbor/Proteus. William Stride, founder and president of Good Harbor, said the Gloucester schools recently decided to serve Proteus-protected fish products as a lunch entree beginning next year. He said Stop & Shop has received "very favorable" reactions from shoppers to Good Harbor's products featuring the Proteus protein under the "Healthy Choice" label. The chain is rolling out the Healthy Choice line throughout eastern New England. Good Harbor is supporting the rollout with radio advertising whose complex pitch is "a revolutionary process that brings you the crispiest, best-tasting fish, without oil, added fat and zero trans fat."The Food and Drug Administration, acting on a mountain of scientific evidence, recently began to push the nation away from fast foods, including fried chicken, infused with "trans fats," or trans fatty acids. They came into wide use as a replacement for unhealthy saturated fats.Beginning in January, prepared foods will be required for the first time to list the heart-disease-causing trans fats. Stride said by 2007, his entire line of prepared, breaded frozen fish products would be converted to Proteus technology.Stride partnered with Kelleher three years ago. He offered Proteus chemists space in his newly built processing plant in Blackburn Industrial Park for research. It made Good Harbor fish the test meat for the patented process.Stride yesterday said, "Categorically, it will work with a breaded piece of chicken. It's easier to manipulate chicken protein (than fish protein)."He said the "generally recognized as safe" finding — or GRAS — would allow the chicken industry to sell lower-fat-fried and baked products and put to use the waste pieces of chicken from which Proteus extracts the pure protein that is then used as a tasteless coating beneath the breading.It is the semi-impermeable coating that holds in moisture and keeps out the cooking oil.Kelleher and his crew of food chemists took many years to perfect the isolation of fish protein from fish products, but less time adapting the science to other meats. "Proteus protein is generally recognized as safe through scientific procedures for use in finished poultry products of the same species as the extracted poultry protein," the FDA reported in a Nov. 18 letter to Proteus' Washington attorney, Robert Hibbert. "The poultry protein is intended for use as a water binding agent and as a coating to increase moisture retention and to reduce fat absorption in the final cooked product."The FDA said it "has no question at this time regarding Proteus' conclusion that the poultry protein is GRAS when produced as described and used under the intended conditions of use." Kelleher declined to identify "the big companies" that have come calling since the FDA ruling but noted his board faces a pivotal decision: Whether to license the process to a single-chicken product company — as it did with Good Harbor with fish — or offer it broadly into one of the nation's largest prepared food sectors.Kelleher previously revealed he was planning to build a plant to extract chicken protein from what is now considered waste pieces.

Posted by: Paul Cook at December 8, 2005 10:12 AM

Who cares if America gets so bloated that its health care industry gets larger than its productive industries (and so large that its car industries can no longer pay for health insurance.) Who cares if its young people are too fat and unhealthy to get into its armed forces? What we are witnessing is the last days of the American Empire; something that the ideologues - like the author of this piece - are simply unable to see. To tell you the truth many non- Americans will be very happy about this. Stay in denial, they will say. We will overtake you - and you lot will be too fat to do anything and too fat-headed even to care!

Posted by: Geof Rayines at November 4, 2006 09:32 AM


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