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The Physicians Committee

NEWS RELEASE September 24, 2009

Doctors Sue KFC Over Dangerous Carcinogen in New Grilled Chicken Products

Laboratory Tests Show KFC Grilled Chicken Contains Cancer-Causing Substance; KFC Violating Law by Failing to Warn Consumers

WASHINGTON—A national physicians group is suing Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) under California law for failing to warn consumers that the chain’s new grilled chicken product contains a dangerous carcinogen.

Independent laboratory tests show that KFC’s grilled chicken contains PhIP, a chemical that can increase a person’s risk of developing cancer even if consumed in small amounts. The lawsuit was filed Sept. 23 in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of San Francisco.  

“Grilled chicken can increase the risk of cancer, and KFC consumers deserve to know that this supposedly healthy product is actually just as bad for them as high-fat fried chicken,” says Neal D. Barnard, M.D., the president of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). “KFC should post warnings because its aggressively marketed new product harbors a chemical that increases the risk of breast cancer, prostate cancer, and other forms of this lethal disease.”

A PCRM scientist visited six different KFC stores, obtained two samples from each location, and sent them to an independent testing laboratory. All 12 samples were found to contain PhIP, a chemical classified as a carcinogen by the federal government, the state of California, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer. PhIP, part of a chemical family known as heterocyclic amines (HCAs), has been linked to several forms of cancer, including breast cancer, in numerous scientific studies. No safe level of ingestion has been identified. Every sample also tested positive for at least one additional type of HCA.

KFC is clearly in violation of California’s public health law, known as Proposition 65. “In order to adequately comply with the requirements of Proposition 65, Defendant must conspicuously post specific warnings with respect to the carcinogenic dangers of the grilled chicken that it offers for sale,” says PCRM in its complaint. PCRM has already sued McDonald’s, Chick-fil-A, and five other national restaurant chains that sell grilled chicken containing PhIP.

Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.

Media Contact:
Jeanne McVey

Neal Barnard M.D.
Neal Barnard, M.D.

Related Links:
KFC Grilled Chicken Products Contain Carcinogenic Chemicals: A PCRM Report 

May 21 News Release: Carcinogen Found in KFC's New Grilled Chicken

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