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Yum Brands Makes A Video:
Too Little, Too Late

Jim Prevor’s Perishable Pundit, March 2, 2007

In dealing with the PR fallout of the video of rats running around its New York City restaurant, which we dealt with in The Rats Of New York Teach The Produce Industry Some Lessons On Food Safety, Yum Brands seems unaware of the need to show concordance between what a company says and how it says it.

Finally, after a few days of insisting it was strictly a local problem and hiding a one-paragraph statement on the back page of the KFC and Taco Bell web sites, Yum Brands decided to post a video on the same web sites, still on a back page that consumers have to search for. The video is placed on a page that cannot be directly linked to, and it still is not on the main Yum Brands web site.

Yum Brands selected out the paragraph below from the video of Emil Brolick, President, U.S. Yum Brands and presented it as follows:

YUM! BRANDS UPDATE FOR NEW YORK CITY CUSTOMERS

“We are absolutely committed to our customers and have worked with ADF (a franchisee of KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut), to close their uninspected restaurants in New York until they are fully inspected by the health department and given a clean bill of health. We will not compromise on our food and restaurant quality,” said Emil Brolick, President U.S. Brands, Yum! Brands, Inc.

This statement of repentance really shows the arrogance of Yum Brands:

First, note it is an update for NYC customers as if they are the only ones who need be concerned. Yet, of course, the main issue is how are the systems of Yum Brands so weak that this can happen at all? And if it can happen in New York, is there any reason to think it couldn’t happen elsewhere?

Second, the video is not presented by the CEO of Yum Brands but by an underling. This clearly tells consumers that Yum Brands doesn’t think this is a very big deal.

Third, note the standard for reopening the restaurants: the health department has to give a clean bill of health. In other words, if it is good enough for the health department, it is good enough for Yum Brands. Yet we know the restaurant was inspected and kept open by that same health department the day before the rat video was shot. The customers of Yum Brands want to know that Yum Brands certifies it is clean, but Yum wishes to evade that responsibility. Yet that is the reason for going to a national chain, uniform standards.

Fourth, note that there is no note of betrayal in the discussion of its franchisee. No sense that Yum Brands is outraged that one of its franchisees could allow such a thing. And note, there is no termination of the franchise agreement, which would actually send a powerful message to other franchisees to clean up their act.

If you click on “View video remarks from Yum! Brands’ President Emil Brolick,” you can watch the brief video here.

By the way, as the industry looks at government regulation we better make sure the auditors stay private. New York still hasn’t fired the inspector who kept the restaurant open in New York, and nobody has been fired in Los Angeles either as a result of failing to do their job at the 7th Street Market, — a story we dealt with in Rats in Los Angeles: The Produce Industry’s Shame.

If you can’t fire on grounds of incompetence, you are bound to get a lot of incompetence. This seems unlikely to enhance food safety or regulatory and consumer confidence in fresh produce.

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