Three local tech firms in China were found guilty by the Xuhui District People’s Court in Shanghai of helping spread false rumors about KFC. They posted pictures of deformed chickens and scared people with claims that KFC uses chickens that have six wings and eight legs. People in China naturally started to question the safety of KFC’s food because of the rumors.
Yingchenanzhi Success and Culture Communication, Shanxi Weilukuang Technology, and Taiyuan Zero Point Technology allowed false allegations to be posted on their social media accounts. They also used 10 WeChat accounts to circulate defamatory posts about KFC. According to the Xuhui District People’s Court, the three tech firms damaged KFC’s reputation and caused economic losses.
The court ruled that the three tech companies must make an official apology to KFC and pay a fine of 600,000 yuan combined. KFC’s parent company, Yum Brands, wanted the companies to each pay 1.5 million yuan in damages, but KFC is still satisfied with the outcome. As the spokeswoman for KFC China, Cindy Wei, said, “We brought suit against these individuals for making false statements about the quality of our food, and we are pleased with the outcome.”
Some foreign companies in China feel treated unfairly by the government, but KFC’s legal battle win is an example of justice being served. China has been enforcing the laws for companies on both sides of the fence: local and international. The country has also been introducing new regulations to create a more level playing field and ensure that consumers are protected.
KFC’s lawsuit against rumors isn’t its first legal trouble in China. The fast food company’s sales were hurt over a meat safety scandal in 2014 that was the fault of the supplier, OSI Group. KFC was unknowingly sold expired meat and was the one initially blamed when it aired on the news. Other U.S. companies in China were sold expired meat by the same supplier too, including McDonald’s and Burger King. Fortunately, the court ruled in their favor, fining OSI Group and sentencing 10 employees up to three years in jail.
Some people would give up after these problems, but KFC continues to push forward in China. Now that the news is out that the food safety concerns about deformed chickens being used in KFC’s meat were malicious rumors, the fast food chain will likely see some improvement in its sales. At the very least, KFC has protected its reputation in China.
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