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YUM! Brands: KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell & Food Stamps for Unsafe Foods

YUM! Brands: KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell & Food Stamps for Unsafe Foods
Global Revolution 1: American Revolution 2: Day 64: Communication 1
IronBoltBruce’s Kleptocracy Chronicles for 19 Nov 2011 (g1a2d0064c1)
How many examples of greed and corruption must you see before you act?

Thanks to the American Frozen Food Institute and other corporate lobbies pouring on the payola, our bought and paid for puppet politicians in Washington have determined that a slice of pizza is a healthy vegetable if served to our kids at school, but not if served to our poor by a restaurant.  And up until this week YUM! Brands – the global conglomerate that owns well-known junk food chains like KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell – was working hard to correct that contradiction.  Not by eliminating the obvious insanity of classifying pizza as a vegetable, of course, but by lobbying to approve the use of EBT cards (a.k.a. “food stamps”) to make purchases at their restaurants.  According to BusinessWeek.com:

“Yum [had] lobbied government officials in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Kentucky to allow its restaurants to participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which is administered by the states.  The nearly five-decade-old program distributed a record $64.4 billion in the 2010 fiscal year.  ‘Everybody wants to get a piece of that action,’ says Marion Nestle, a New York University professor of nutrition and public health.  ‘Right now it’s going to grocery stores; restaurants think that’s not fair.’  [But health] advocates howled when they learned that fast-food giant Yum! Brands (YUM) wants to let low-income Americans use food stamps at its Taco Bell and KFC restaurants.  Now the U.S. Agriculture Dept., which funds the food stamp program, has also voiced its opposition and is encouraging states not to give Yum a green light. ‘For us to be indifferent to the quality of the food is just a serious mistake,’ says Kevin Concannon, the Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services. ‘We should promote access to healthy foods.'”


I’m sure Mr. Concannon meant to end that sentence with “…except when it comes to school lunches for our children”.


Anyway…  Regardless of whether you pay with food stamps or Federal Reserve notes, the food you buy at KFC, Pizza Hut or Taco Bell may (remotely) taste “Southern”, Italian or Mexican, but a portion of its ingredients – the exact amount being kept as secret as the Colonel’s recipe – may actually be Chinese and consequently unsafe by American standards:

“China has become an agricultural powerhouse and leading food exporter.  Though supermarket labels may not always indicate it, a growing portion of the American diet is now made in China.  In 2009, 70 percent of the apple juice, 43
percent of the processed mushrooms, 22 percent of the frozen spinach and 78 percent of the tilapia Americans ate came from China.  Unfortunately, it’s not just China’s food that’s reaching American shores – it’s also China’s food safety problems.  The shortcomings in China’s food safety system were highlighted when ingredients tainted with the chemical melamine entered the global food supply…  [Melamine] contaminated Chinese dairy products, sickening 300,000 children and infants in China, six of whom died…  The melamine scandal played out across the globe, ending up in the food supplies of corporate producers including Mars, Unilever, Heinz, Cadbury and YUM! Brands, Inc. (which owns Pizza Hut, Subway and other fast food chains).”


I find no consolation in the likelihood that whatever YUM! is doing to “us”, they are also doing to “them”:

“Urban consumers in China are increasingly embracing American-style diets.  Eating out is the fastest-growing segment of Chinese consumer food spending.  Much of this spending ends up at KFC, owned by Yum! Brands.  KFC opens a new restaurant in China every 18 hours and purchases one quarter of all chicken thighs produced in China – literally billions of pieces of meat.  In 2010, Yum! Brands earned 36 percent of its profits from its 3,200 KFC and 500 Pizza Hut restaurants in China – more than it made from the 19,000 KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and other company restaurants in the United States.  China now faces a new ‘era of obesity,’ mirroring U.S. overconsumption of fatty foods.”


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