Yum! or Yuck? Fat Food Chain Apologizes to New York, Aramark Mum on UN Rats  :  Published March 2007 All Rights Reserved


Yum! or Yuck? Fat Food Chain Apologizes to New York, Aramark Mum on UN Rats

Louisville, Kentucky-based Yum! Brands Inc., apologized to New York City. The company assumed that everyone in the world knew exactly what Yum! was apologizing for, because their statement did not say. So, unless readers caught video clips of rats parading about in one of Yum!'s fast food chain (or fat food) stores in Manhattan -- such an apology would not make sense.

Yum! Brands, which trades on the New York Stock Exchange (under YUM without the exclamation point) is the world's largest restaurant company in terms of system stores -- more than 34,000. Yum! reaches out to more than 100 countries with brand names KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and Long John Silver's with brands of chicken, pizza, taco, and fish meals.

Yum!'s stock price soared to $63.68 during the first week of December 2006, on reports that Christmas shoppers were heading into the fast food chains to load-up on fattening fried food while charging-up credit cards with gifts they couldn't afford at neighboring department store chains.  But Yum! shares lost ground two weeks later to $58, and shares spent the next two months recovering gains up until 20 February to close at $62 and change.

Overnight on 23 February videographers captured dozens of rats scurrying around a KFC/Taco Bell eatery in Manhattan's Greenwich Village and -- as the chicken farmer said to the rooster-- all hell broke loose when the video hit the online world and the KFC/Taco Bell combo store was closed.

Shares of Yum! closed off 1.09 percent on 2 March at $56.51 when its shareholder  apology was broadcast by Yum! and the chain owner declared it would hire its own pest control to monitor the Manhattan establishment.

The rats, meanwhile..., packed their greasy bags and left the Village via the 6 train heading uptown to the United Nations where it has been reported that rats (and mice and water eels) were seen scurrying about darkened hallways of that east-Midtown diplomat building. Vendor Aramark Inc., which declined any and all responsibility associated with rodent control at the 50-year-old building, handles the United Nations' food preparation services. It has been rumored that the United Nations does not plan to apologize for their rat (or eel) infestation either, since the world body plans a $1 billion renovation project shortly. (Hopefully the renovation will prevent East River eels from slithering into the building's corridors.)

Yum! did state to New Yorkers however, “We apologize to our customers and want to reassure them that we have been working around the clock to prevent this from happening again," said Emil Brolick, president of the firm.

He declared that Dr. Robert Corrigan (author of Rodent Control: A Practical Guide For Pest Management Professionals) would thoroughly and independently review the application "of the high standards we require of our operators in New York City."

Yum! Brands added that they would work in partnership with the health department and continue to insist that all its restaurants in New York City were fully inspected and given a clean bill of health before they are re-opened.

The health department also promised a thorough review to ensure that city inspectors would uphold standards. City health commissioner Thomas Frieden said his team of inspectors "could always be better."

Yum!'s KFC/Taco Bell store had been inspected prior to the video footage of rat infestation, and the inspector, who was female, has been put on temporary leave of field duties pending further investigation.

Outside of the United States the Yum! Brands' system opened about three new restaurants each day during year 2005 --a prosperous growth year-- the company boasts, and it is called one of Fortune Magazine's "Top 50 Employers for Minorities."

It also has been recognized as one of the "Top 50 Employers for Women" by Fortune, one of the "40 Best Companies for Diversity" by Black Enterprise Magazine for the past two years, one of Black Enterprise Magazine's "30 Hottest Franchises for 2006," one of the "Corporate 100 Companies Providing Opportunities for Hispanics" by Hispanic Magazine, one of the "Top 50 Corporations for Supplier Diversity" by Hispanic Trends Magazine and by Business Week as one of the "Top 15 Companies for In-Kind Corporate Philanthropy."

The office of Think & Ask --which is not far from the United Nations-- is indeed rodent free and employees are banned from fat (or fast) food chains...however it has been said that some on the writing staff are candidates for possible extermination when the health inspector visits.


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