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'Rotten' Brazilian Chickens Take Toll on Korean Franchises

SOUTH KOREA - Moms Touch and other fried chicken franchises are scrambling to contain the fallout from the rotten poultry scandal in Brazil as more consumers refrain from eating chicken.
calendar icon 27 March 2017
clock icon 3 minute read

The Korea Times reports that despite the government's assurance that chicken imported from Brazil was not processed by a scandal-hit processor and so is safe to consume, many are blindly shying away from poultry brought from the South American country.

Already hit by the avian influenza outbreak over the past few months, the latest incident is feared to wreak havoc on Moms Touch, KFC, Lotteria and other fast food chains that use cheaper frozen Brazilian meat to make burgers and other products.

BBQ Genesis and other fried chicken franchises, which use only locally-bred chicken, are increasingly concerned about a possible sales decline.

On Monday, the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety halted the distribution of imported Brazilian chicken, following media reports that food processing firms there had bribed government officials to overlook inspections and allow them to export rotten meat.

The next day, the ministry lifted the suspension after finding that none of the chicken imported from Brazil was processed by BRF, a Brazilian poultry processor that exported the bad chicken.

Despite the findings, fast food franchises and other restaurants, which use cheaper Brazilian chicken to make burgers and other dishes, have stopped using imported poultry as consumers are increasingly uneasy about eating imported poultry.

Moms Touch, a home-grown chicken burger chain that operates more than 1,000 stores nationwide, has decided not to offer products made with Brazilian chicken. From Monday, it stopped getting frozen poultry from BRF and instead began buying more from local chicken farms.

"Although none of the chicken we imported from Brazil has a problem, we decided to take some chicken dishes off our menu due to growing safety concerns over imported poultry among consumers," a Moms Touch official said.

Burger King, KFC, Lotteria and other fast food chains also decided to stop offering items using cheaper Brazilian chicken, which will chip away at their bottom lines.

Fearing a possible consumer backlash, BBQ, Kyochon and other fried chicken chains have been rushing to actively defend the quality of their food items, stressing that they use only locally-bred poultry.

"We always get chicken from local farms even though they are much more expensive than imported chicken," a BBQ official said. "So, we have nothing to do with the scandal concerning the Brazilian poultry processor."

In 2016, Korea imported some 88,995 tons of Brazilian chicken, accounting for 83 per cent of the entire imports. Of the 88,995 tons, some 42,500 tons were processed at five factories run by BRF, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

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