Bid to crush KFC cockroach ruling

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 22 May, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 22 May, 1999, 12:00am

Fast-food chain KFC was in court yesterday over an unwanted extra found attached to a customer's chicken wing - a cockroach.

Office worker Winnie Chu found the cockroach 'attached to the chicken' with a golden-brown layer of oil after buying the food from the chain's D'Aguilar Street branch in March last year.

KFC's local franchise holder, Birdland (Hong Kong) Ltd, was convicted of 'selling an article of food which was not of the substance of food demanded by the purchaser', contrary to the Public Health Ordinance, on January 12 at Western Court.

It was fined $3,000 and ordered to pay $1,000 costs. It is appealing against the decision in the Court of First Instance.

Ms Chu told the magistrate she took the food to her office in the Bank of America Tower, where she found a brown 'bean-like' substance attached to the meat.

It was a dead cockroach, she concluded, as did a health inspector and an Urban Services Department officer.

The remains of the creature were shown in court yesterday, where a lawyer representing Birdland argued it was not cooked and could have flown into the bag as Ms Chu walked to her office.

'It's been embalmed,' said Gary Plowman SC for the firm. 'It's not even a decent-sized one.' The company claims magistrate Kevin Browne failed to properly consider its case.

'Cockroaches fly, and this one may have entered the food package after sale,' Mr Plowman said.

The company argues there was a lapse of one hour and 45 minutes from when Ms Chu bought the chicken and when she sat down to eat it. It also maintains the cockroach was not cooked.

'Chicken wings are cooked 15 minutes at 360 degrees Fahrenheit [182 degrees Celsius],' Mr Plowman said. 'A cockroach would be cooked to a crisp if it had been through that.' Mrs Justice Verina Bokhary reserved judgment until Tuesday.