KFC's Grilled Chicken Sets Off Lawsuit Threat

'Physicians' Group' Says Meat Causes Cancer

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A clarification has been made in this story. See below for details.

Sometimes you just can't win. It's particularly hard to get break if you're trying to produce something healthy and your middle name is "fried."

KFC, which recently announced that it would start selling grilled chicken, was promptly greeted with the threat of a lawsuit. The chain has, of course, been sued in the past for the level of trans fat in its signature fried chicken.

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has already sued McDonald's, Burger King, Applebee's, Friday's, Chili's and Chick Fil-A, in an attempt to force the chains to post warning signs about the cancer risks associated with eating grilled chicken. The association recommended adding KFC to the suit after the chain announced its new platform for "healthier" fare.

"Grilled chicken contains a known carcinogen, and KFC consumers deserve to know it," the association's president Neal Barnard said in a press release. "Even a grilled chicken salad likely increases the risk of breast cancer, prostate cancer, and other forms of this lethal disease."

The group is referring to PhIP, a group of carcinogenic compounds found in grilled meat. It's not that the doctors want consumers eating chicken that's been baked, or even fried. They want folks to eschew meat altogether.

"We recommend as a physicians' group that people don't eat chicken at all because it's so high in saturated fat," said the committee's general counsel, Dan Kinburn. "We recommend a vegan diet." While Mr. Kinburn said that between 5% and 10% of the population can be described as some form of vegetarian, "it's difficult to estimate how many vegans there are."

Of course, PCRM has an interesting definition of the term "physicians' group" seeing as how, according to a 2004 Newsweek article, less than 5% of its membership consists of, you know, doctors. Further, American Academy of Neurology, the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, and Congress of Neurological Surgeons asked the AMA to enact a resolution against the animal rights group for its stances on animal experimentation and because "PCRM discourages donations to health charities that support research with animals, like the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, the American Foundation for AIDS Research, the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation and the American Red Cross." And the March of Dimes, too.

UPDATE/CLARIFICATION: The AMA withdrew its own official resolution against PCRM (relevant passage can be found here) and replaced it with a more general "We stand by animal testing" resolution which it reaffirmed when the other doctors' groups took aim at the PCRM.

"We have not seen the lawsuit and cannot comment on potential pending litigation," said Rick Maynard, a KFC spokesman.
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