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.
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."
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...