Kentacky Friend Chicken (KFC) has sued three Chinese companies over spreading of false rumors on social media that the company is using genetically modified chicken with six wings and eight legs. It claimed that the rumors, that could damage its image, appeared on mobile phone app WeChat.
The popular food restaurant chain has filed complaint with the Shanghai Xuhui District People's Court seeking immediate stop to spreading of fake rumors and demanded 1.5 million yuan ($242,000) each from the three companies besides an apology.
The companies accused of creating internet hoax about chicken used by KFC are Shanxi Weilukuang Technology Company Ltd., Taiyuan Zero Point Technology Company and Yingchenanzhi Success and Culture Communication Ltd.
KFC claimed in a statement on its Chinese website that more than 4,000 posts were in circulation and over 100,000 members could have seen the fake pictures.
"This not only seriously misled consumers, but also hurt our brand," said Qu Cuirong, KFC China's president (Google translate from KFC China).
She said that the company couldn't take up legal action in the past despite corporate reputation being damaged due to difficulties in gathering evidences. She said that they received the confidence and weapon to fight against the perpetrators after the government started purifying Internet environment and legal interpretation this year.
According to a report by BBC, there were 4,828 KFC branches in China by the end of 2014 and hundreds of new outlets are opened every year. It may be recalled that KFC and McDonald's stopped taking meat from one of its suppliers in 2014 after it was accused of selling old meat.