The Ecologist

November/December 1995


Kentucky Fried Chicken Protests in India

The Government of India raised permitted levels of the flavour enhancer monosodium glutamate (MSG) in December 1995. The decision came after a Bangalore court closed a Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet because it's food exceeded the legal limits for the additve. Used in a wide range of fast foods, MSG is associated with behavioural disorders, such as hyperactivity, and has induced severe brain damage in rats. Unborn children are at particular risk since MSG concentrates in the placenta.

The Government fears that the Bangalore court's decision will deter further investment in India by foreign-owned food processing companies and fast food chains such as McDonald's, which plans to open the first of 60 outlets in 1996.

A broad-based campaign has developed against Kentucky Fried Chicken comprising health activists opposed to the entry of "junk food chains" into India, farmers' groups and animal rights' groups opposed to factory farming, environmental groups, and thoseopposed to the entry of TNC's in India's food sector. The campaign pressured the Delhi government to close KFC's first outlet in the capital.

Citizen's groups plan to contest the decision to raise permitted levels of MSG and continue to protest on other grounds as well.

WRITE TO: Prime Minister Narsima Rao, Fax: +9113019817; Minister of Food Processing, K.P. Singh Deo, Fax +9113713030.

CONTACT: Research Foundation for Science Technology and natural Resource policy, A-60 Hauz Khas, New Delhi-110 016, INDIA