Is KFC About To Get Healthier And Less Tasty? [Updated]

Is KFC About To Get Healthier And Less Tasty? [Updated]

The KFC you know and love could soon be on the chopping block. The company is implementing sweeping changes to its UK menu with an emphasis on healthier, lighter eating. This includes a 20 per cent reduction in calories per serving and the introduction of vegetarian “chicken”. No, really.

With obesity and heart disease skyrocketing in the Western world, fast food companies are doing everything they can to improve their unhealthy reputation. For KFC in the UK and Ireland, this includes a 20 per cent reduction in calories by the year 2025.

“Everyone in the food and drink industry, from fast food to traditional restaurants, is being scrutinised for the nutritional content of their meals,” KFC explained in a statement. “As an industry leader and world famous brand, we know that we bear a responsibility to help move the sector forward.”

The move coincides with a Public Health campaign in the UK, which encourages adults to stick to a daily calorie intake of 1600. (400 calories for breakfast, 600 for lunch and 600 for dinner.)

As part of its healthier eating drive, KFC will be expanding its vegetarian menu which currently includes meals like the Vegie Ricebox (sweet mini corn cob, steamed Tex Mex rice, fresh lettuce, sweetcorn, chopped tomatoes and bean salsa.)

There will also be a “vegetarian chicken” option. Presumably, this will be made from marinated tofu, ala Lord Of The Fries.

Is KFC About To Get Healthier And Less Tasty? [Updated]Image: KFC

KFC claims there are no plans to change its Original Recipe chicken – but as its reduced-calorie target nears its deadline, portion sizes will almost certainly begin to shrink as a result. This seems to be backed by KFC’s own statements on the subject (emphasis ours):

This is about providing choice, and offering delicious, signature KFC taste that just happens to be lighter.

So what does this mean for KFC Australia? While we aren’t obligated to follow what KFC does internationally, it can’t be denied that obesity is just as big of an issue over here (if not more so.)

If KFC UK pulls off its reinvention with profits intact, you can bet that KFC Australia will look to follow suit with a similar initiative of its own. In the meantime, here’s what KFC has to say about healthy eating on its Aussie website:

KFC is a treat (and what a treat!) that can be enjoyed as part of a balanced lifestyle, which includes regular exercise.

We’ve reached out to KFC and will update this article as soon as we hear back.


KFC Australia just got back to us with the following response:

“Our nutrition journey is always evolving. We are constantly evaluating and reviewing all aspects of our menu and how customers consume our food. This means not just kilojoules, but changes we can make across the board. As part of our journey to improve the nutrition of our menu, we have made a commitment to offer broader menu choices, provide greater transparency and make nutritional improvements to our food.

“Since 2010 we have worked across our core menu offerings to reduce sodium, in 2012 we changed our cooking oil from sustainably sourced palm oil to locally sourced high-oleic canola oil and we continue to look for ways in which we can make further improvements.

“We do believe that all food can be part of a balanced diet with appropriate exercise. We pride ourselves on providing great tasting food to our customers and any changes to our menu will always involve a rigorous and robust testing process first to ensure that we don’t mess with the crown jewels.”

Faking It: We Taste-Test Lord Of The Fries' Imitation Meat Products

Last week, we got the crowdsourcing website Airtasker to deliver Lord Of The Fries to our office (you can read how the venture turned out here). For most of us, it marked the first time we had sampled the company's famous meat-free burgers which are billed as having the look, taste and texture of beef or poultry. But can an animal substitute really compare to the real thing? Here are our verdicts...

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  • An increased vegetarian menu isn’t a bad thing. My wife and I are vegetarian, and on the occasion we’re out with friends or family and they decide to get KFC, there’s not much there for us to choose from. We usually have to just nibble on a side salad and chips, then get a real meal somewhere else later.

    Pretty much every other restaurant has vegetarian options. For example, even Hungry Jacks has the Veggie Whopper. KFC is the odd one out. It’s bizarre, since in the latest Roy Morgan survey, 2.1 million Australians identified as “totally or almost totally vegetarian”.

    • I’m have reduced my meat intake for environmental/humane reasons and respect your opinion on this too. I’m just curious if a company that has chicken in its name should be expected to have a vegetarian main option or is it asking too much? Hungry Jacks, for example, has nothing in its title that would indicate that the main product is meat-based but KFC is literally a chicken based business. Thoughts?

      • Even most steakhouses have vegetarian options.

        The restaurants realize that they get groups in where most of the people are there for steak, but there are one or two people who are vegetarian. So they cater for everyone, rather than lose the whole group.

        It may be a token option, like a veggie wrap, or an overgrown side (e.g. a salad and wedges). But they have the option there, and if you look around the Steakhouse, you’ll almost always see there are a handful of people eating the veggie options.

        I guess KFC is the type of place that gets less groups in, so they don’t care as much. But it wouldn’t cost much to add a token veggie item to the menu (like Hungry Jacks does), and not lose out on the occasional groups that include a vegetarian and end up opting to go somewhere else.

        It’s not just vegetarians either. My local Sichuan place has a little section on the menu for non-spicy dishes. The dishes aren’t even Sichuan, but they’re there so they don’t lose a group when one person doesn’t eat chillies.

    • KFC in the US has a completely different and horrible menu. It seems the entire rest of the world has decided against it. KFC in China is more recognisable than KFC in the US.

      • Last time i had KFC in USA. they had a shredded bbq(?) chicken burger that was delish, and their wedges made our KFC fries taste like McDonald fries, of course KFC fries these days are a shadow of their former selves, HJ thick cut fries are the best.

        • The ones I went to did not even have fries. You could get cardboard mac and cheese though. Also no burgers. No lettuce in the store at all.

          It was hilarious, there was an English guy in there having a go at them and the manager said if he wants fries he should go across the road to another store.

  • I mean, I’d sure try a three piece feed where the chicken isn’t chicken, as long as the herbs and spices and deep frying etc are all still the same

  • changes to our menu will always involve a rigorous and robust testing process first to ensure that we don’t mess with the crown jewels

    This is ironic given that high levels of hormones in chicken can reduce testosterone and impact the development of the penis and testicles in boys.

    Or at least, I THINK that’s what PETA was trying to claim when it tweeted: “Eating Chicken Can Make Your Kid’s Dick Small!”

    Who cares about the science, the co-incidence is just too funny.

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