In China, Burger King is a Healthy Option

Wet Market in China

I was in Shenzhen with a colleague and we went to a Western-style restaurant for lunch in-between meetings. I was ravenous from a new attempt at exercise. I ordered big then was surprised to hear her ask for a salad.

“I don’t eat meat in Shenzhen,” she said. “No chicken. No steak. No pork.” I wanted to flag down the waiter to change my order.

Food quality in China is back in the headlines. From tampered baby powder to dye-injected steak the quality of food in China is a leading concern. It’s common for housewives to list access to quality food as one of their primary concerns. In China, many consumers view fast food restaurants as healthy. That may fly in the face of the McDonald’s protesters in America. Chinese don’t mean healthy in terms of calorie content. They mean healthy in terms of quality ingredients.

KFC and parent Yum! Brands are experiencing negative publicity and on-line concerns regarding a regulatory investigation, such as this feature in China Daily. While contents of the case have not been shared officials are said to be looking into the purchase of chicken with antibiotic levels above approved limits:

Shanghai’s food regulators said that tests conducted by a third-party agency from 2010 to 2011 found that eight batches of chicken supplied to the company by Liuhe Group Co had excessive levels of antibiotics. Yum said it stopped all supplies from Liuhe in August 2012. (Source: China Daily)

The Financial Times in the the ‘beyondbrics’ blog calls it “toxic chicken”

China is such a large market for Yum! that its shares fell 5% in trading Monday with the revelations. Consumers are switching to “healthier” options such as Burger King or McDonald’s. This tops the Facebook page dedicated to “The irony of fat people getting diet coke when ordering at mcdonalds“. (That said the website Dr. Gourmet outlines the healthiest options at each fast food restaurant – Bon Appetit!)

If you only eat the sesame seeds…

As a regular traveler in China I try not to think about the origin of my food. I do veer towards higher end restaurants and eat a lot of room service at the end of a long work day.

When my father died I was 28 and the grief and confusion were insurmountable. At the time a relative said, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger”.

As much as I ponder that catch-cry, I can’t seem to make it fit the chicken in China. That very well could kill you.

Already dead – and loving it!


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