It’s not every day that you get an invite to go on a back-end tour of KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) Parklands so I said yes. One because as somebody who loves food it would be a chance to (hopefully) sample some of their chicken dishes that I hadn’t already tried. The second reason of course was to find out whether it would be possible for their food to be contaminated as the pictures had shown for another outlet in the states.
In the email, we were given instructions on what to wear. We had to wear rubber-soled shoes, not wear jewellery (found out it’s because the jewellery may fall or drop into the food and then become a contaminant) and also not wear nail polish. When we got there first we got some breakfast. This was good because what would come would be tempting if you hadn’t eaten.
At the door, we were given disposable hair nets to cover our hair. We also had to wash our hands first with soap, and then use sanitiser to make sure they were completely disinfected. This is to ensure that we were germ-free. There are sinks with soap and sanitiser dispensers all over for the staff to clean their hands. Every half hour there is a designated person who blows a whistle and everybody has to go and clean their hands.
One of the misconceptions people have including me is that the chicken was being imported. The chicken is actually supplied by Kenchic. The vegetables also come from local suppliers who are audited twice a year for quality. But of course, there are secret recipes/ingredients which are imported directly from the US. Like the Coca-Cola original ingredients, the KFC secret ingredients for the marinades are also a closely guarded secret. The potatoes are imported from Egypt because there is nobody in Kenya (at the moment) who can supply large quantities of pre-cut sliced blanched frozen potatoes.
There are 3 different cold rooms for products. Blood products are stored separately from non-blood products and vegetables as well as products like ice cream and sodas. This ensures there is no cross-contamination. We entered the cold storage for the chicken and it was freezing. Staff usually have special clothing to enter this cold storage. There is also somewhere where frozen food items can thaw at recommended room temperatures.
When the chicken has thawed, it is taken to be marinated then it is taken back to the cold room where it can marinate in a cold environment. There are 2 tumbling drums which are used for the 2 types of marination. After it has marinated for the recommended time then the chicken is cooked. The chicken is cooked for 12 minutes. There are different marinates, some with some spices (zinger) and others without. They are cooked differently; one type is baked while the other is fried.
There is a policy called cook less more often. All food items after preparation should not stay more than 2 hours. After 2 hours whatever has been prepared is thrown in the bin. So the staff has to make sure that they know about how many orders they get every hour and make an estimate of how much they need to make.
The cooking oil is also changed regularly. There is what is called a visibility test which involves dipping a simple calibrated steel dipstick with a marked depth. When the oil is clear the bottom of the instrument can be seen even when tipped. When it cannot be seen, at point 5 then they dispose of the oil. Once the chicken is cooked it is put in a warming oven and waiting to be served.
Everything in the kitchen is temperature controlled including the water for cleaning, rinsing, and disinfecting, and the holding trays for draining the cooked potato chips. In the end, what comes out is some very delicious chicken that is mouthwatering and delicious.
So the next time you want to grab some chicken be assured that you are getting a quality meal which has gone through rigorous hygiene standards in the KFC Kitchen. We had a great tour and of course, we got a meal to take away for lunch. Delicious.
Potentash Founder. A creative writer. The Managing Editor at Potentash. Passionate about telling African stories and stories about the inclusion of minorities. Find me at email@example.com.
“We're all stories, in the end.” ― Steven Moffat