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Kentucky Fried Chicken

KFC takes on India over MSG

September 21, 1995
Web posted at: 3:10 p.m. EDT (1910 GMT)

From Correspondent Ashis Ray

BANGALORE, India (CNN) -- Kentucky Fried Chicken is determined to peck away at the fast-food market in India, and a recent court ruling has given it at least temporary approval to do so.

The Bangalore City Corporation said KFC's fried chicken is unfit for human consumption because it has too much monosodium glutamate, a taste enhancer commonly known as MSG. The company's only restaurant in India was closed until KFC won the court order.

Chicken in Batter

"We found that in the fried chicken that they serve, one particular component, monosodium glutamate, the contents were in excess of the permissible limits," said Bangalore City Coordinator A. Ravindran.

The charge ruffled KFC's feathers. "We serve the same product in Bangalore as we do in our over 9,000 restaurants in 78 countries. And we know for a fact that the level of MSG is what is within permissible norms," said Dr. Sandeep Kohli with PepsiCo India, which operates the Bangalore restaurant.

Picketing KFC

That question is still to be decided by an Indian court. But it is certain not to be the last challenge KFC and other international chains face as they try to move into the huge Indian market. The chains are the targets of Indian nationalists who want non-Indian companies out of all low- technology areas. "No potato chips," they say, "only micro chips," meaning high technology. But the average consumer seems to be less concerned.

"I don't really understand why it should bother them so much, because what people eat or don't eat is really a personal decision," one Indian consumer said.

Placing Order

KFC plans to open more outlets in other Indian cities soon. But even though the country inaugurated economic reforms four years ago, it may still be some time before multi-national companies are made to feel at home in India.

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