Advocates target KFC’s new chicken for health scrutiny

WASHINGTON The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, an advocacy group that says it represents 6,000 doctors, is threatening to take legal action in California if KFC’s new Kentucky Grilled Chicken contains PhlP, a carcinogen produced when meats are grilled.

The group alerted KFC to the possibility in a letter sent to KFC president Gregg Dedrick on Tuesday, a day after the chain officially announced that it plans to roll out the chicken to all stores in the United States by spring of 2009. The product is currently in test.

The PCRM indicated that it would test the new chicken before adding KFC to a lawsuit pending in California against seven chains that sell grilled meats or poultry. Although the new item is marketed as being grilled, it is actually roasted in a convection oven, with grill marks seared into the meat by a non-stick plate upon which the poultry sits.

California requires that consumers be alerted through public warnings of the cancer and reproductive risks posed by products cointaining certain compounds, incluing PhlP. The PCRM sued the seven restaurant chains for not posting warnings about its grilled meats. Its opponents contend that the meat does not pose a risk, and that PCRM is actually a pro-vegetarian group looking to discourage meat consumption. Some adversaries say the PCRM is affiliated with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. But PCRM asserts that it has no relationship with the animal-rights advocacy group.

PCRM said it is awaiting a response from KFC.

Efforts to reach the chain, a holding of Yum! Brands Inc. of Louisville, Ky., were not successful.

Kentucky Grilled Chicken is currently being tested in San Diego; Colorado Springs, Colo; Oklahoma City; Jacksonville, Fla.; and Austin, Texas.