KFC ethical activities have been put to the test when some animal rights activist challenged KFC’ treatment of chicken. In the month of June 2008, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) together with Hollywood actress Pamela Anderson sent written complains to the KFC managing Director in the UK for unethical treatment of chicken. According to this group, Kentucky Fried Chicken is not keen on the way their suppliers treat their chicken in their farms. The group asserted that these suppliers make the chicken grow too fast thus preventing them from walking.
(AOL, 2008) The latter activists also asserted that KFC’S suppliers normally mistreat chicken in the slaughter houses. They claim that the chicken are chained by metal shackles and placed in electric water baths. These groups also complained about the way chicken are still alive during the process of de-necking them. They believed that chicken’s living and dying conditions should be improved. These assertions were further justified by the latter group when they claimed that KFC Canada followed suit by changing some of their policies.
According to the animal rights activists, the Canadian chain opted to consider how chickens were bred before purchasing them from suppliers. They even offered vegetarian alternatives for their respective clientele. Consequently, the celebrity Pamela Anderson- who was speaking on behalf of PETA asserted that she would stop consuming KFC ‘s products until they complies with their suggestions. Another closely linked media report was with regard to reports made by undercover reporters working for PETA. The latter reporters had made video cameras of the way KFC treats its animals.
Some of them were quite disturbing as they depict chickens being thrown against walls, being beaten and being slaughtered mercilessly. The latter group also claimed that KFC suppliers overcrowd their chickens and make the lives of those respective animals very miserable. Some of these suppliers also engage in beak trimming; which is the process of cutting off chicken’s beaks. In response to these allegations, KFC Company asserted that they had formed a committee to tackle the issue of animal rights. However, this committee was not collaborating with any of the animal rights movements.
Besides that, the company was also quick to reply that some of their suppliers who engage in beak trimming were only doing what normal chicken farmers are doing too. Additionally, the company claimed that their suppliers were not mistreating their animals either. (Howell, 2000) However, ethical experts would agree that KFC has breached its own ethical policies. The company believes that all their suppliers should not engage in any sort of malpractice. Nonetheless, according to UK law, beak trimming is allowed for only thirty percent of the bird population in order to stop them from hurting one another using their beaks.
It is very clear that KFC‘s suppliers have breached this law as they trim almost all their chicken. Besides that, the suppliers have also exceeded the maximum allowable bird density for chickens as stipulated by the Department for Environment. They recommend a maximum of thirty chickens per meter squared. Again, these are all laws that have been ignored by KFC suppliers. In addition, the twelve thousand demonstrations that have been conducted against KFC’s suppliers also indicate that the company is going about the issue in an unethical manner.
KFC’s other outlets should follow the example made by KFC Canada who only contract suppliers using controlled atmosphere killing. The outlet also looks out for the welfare of chicken in their respective farms. (AOL, 2008) KFC has faced a lot of moral discord for their wage conditions. The latter is a characteristic that is synonymous with most fast food restaurants within the country and the rest of the world. The company has been accused of employing a substantial number of young employees who receive above minimum wage.
Although the company pays its employees slightly above minimum wages, the company’s huge profits are not reflected in the incentives offered to its employees. As if this is not enough, a substantial number of KFC employees have not been unionised. This gives the company undue advantage because they have the capacity to change what employees earn without getting any resentment from them. These poor employment practices have been concentrated in some particular outlets such as New Zealand and Canada. In New Zealand, the Company offered different rates for youths compared to the rest of the employee base.
This caused a strike in the year 2003 after which the company agreed to reduce their levels of employee treatment. In this regard, they asserted that they would eliminate those youth rates but they never did. (The New Zealand Herald, 2005) After examining these issues, one can assert that KFC have demonstrated unethical behaviour in some selected outlets. The company even expects its suppliers to have good working conditions but they have not managed to clean up their house in all their outlets around the world. (Cragg, 2002) KFC has also been in the news for their poor environmental policies.
According to some activists, KFC has not demonstrated good corporate responsibility because of the type of suppliers who provide them with soy. Soy is part of their chicken ingredients; a company known as Cargill supplies it. According to the environmental activists, most of this soy is sourced in an illegal manner according to large number of the reporters. Some of these claims were as a result of investigations made by the environmental group Green peace organisation. In response to these allegations, KFC asserted that they source their soy from Brazil and not from the illegal operations of Cargill.
However, the environmentalists still insists that that is not the case, their soy comes from the Amazon forest and KFC is demonstrating that they are not committed towards creating sustainable environment. There is no way of knowing for sure whether these accusations are true, however, one cannot ignore the fact that the environmental group did their own investigations and found that there were some problems with the illegal logging. (Brazil Magazine, 2006) KFC has also been accused of utilising the founder’s names for a substantial number of their commodities even when the founder did not approve those commodities.
KFC’s founder was known as Sanders and he is one of the individuals who came up with a unique recipe for creating KFC’ chicken. At that time, the founder was in charge of only a small portion of the restaurant chain. However, with time, the company began expanding and he lost ownership to other groups. The new owners have been using Sanders’ name in most of their commodities even when their recipes were not created by the latter individual. It is therefore necessary for the group to come up with honest advertisements and assertions about who was the true chef behind some of their commodities.
Otherwise, this is misleading advertising and marketing. They are not adhering to the ethical rules of marketing. (Howell, 2000) Another issue that the company is currently grappling with is firmly tied to the nature of the industry that the company operates in; fast food restaurant. According to health experts and other nutritionists, the type of fats utilised when cooking foods highly affects the nutritional and health value of the food. One particular type of fat that has received so much attention from the corresponding individuals is Trans fats.
Trans fats are those types of fats that are emanated from oil during the hardening process. The purpose of these trans fats is to prolong shelf life and to make commodities prepared through baking last longer. Despite these good qualities, trans fats can bring about complicated health diseases that many people in the UK are fighting, these include; • Obesity • Diabetes • Coronary heart disease • Other disorders Consequently, companies that take their social responsibility seriously should look for cooking oil that is either very low in trans fats or has no trans fats at all.
(Zwillich, 2006)If this alternative is not possible, then companies ought to tell their consumers clearly that they are using trans fats so that consumers maker conscious choices. The company under study; KFC has tried adhering to these ethical norms in some outlets but in others, the company still continues cooking its commodities with these trans fats and has not looked for alternatives. It should be noted that the UK government has been particularly interested in fighting obesity. Consequently, the government has set up some regulations that are aimed at reducing this problem.
Given the interest that trans fats has generated from the public and the governor, it is KFC’s duty to comply so as to demonstrate good corporate citizenry and adherence with ethical principles. The company needs to improve; the simplest way it can do this is by revealing the amount of fat contained in their products. There is serious cause for alarm in with regard to the trans fat issue because there are hundreds of thousands of people who die annually as result of fast food related complications.
Consequently, KFC is contributing towards poor health in the UK. If they are not careful, the company could keep loosing a substantial number of their consumers thus loosing business in the end. The company should realise that the western world has been taken over by the fast food culture. Individuals are so committed to their work places that they have little time to cook at home. They are therefore depending on fast food restaurants to feed them. Such an enormous responsibility for fast food restaurants comes with enormous sacrifice.
KFC as one such company ought to give precedence to the health needs of their clients otherwise the company will be operating in a selfish manner. (Sternberg, 2000) Conclusion As a restaurant operating under the fast food industry, there are some ethical issues that come into play when considering the nature of the industry itself. This is especially since the Health Ministry in the region announced a battle against obesity. Also, KFC also has to deal with different ethical issues in their capacity as a business corporation.
Any company worth its salt should have a code of ethics and must be prepared to stick by it KKC has breached a substantial number of their ethics codes. However, one must not assume that the ethical issues facing KFC are one sided. Most times, individuals tend to focus on the negative aspects of ethics and fail to look at things from another angle. The purpose of the essay was to provide an in-depth analysis of the fast food industry through two contrary ideas; the moral and legal obligations that KFC has adhered to and also the ethical misgivings that the company has engaged in too.
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