In an echo of the Nike ‘free speech’ row [see story this issue], US animal rights activists are taking fast food chain KFC to court over its public relations activities.

The lawsuit – filed in a Los Angeles court – is part of a six-month campaign by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to improve the way chickens destined for KFC restaurants are kept and slaughtered. It claims over 700 million birds bound for such eateries “often endure suffering, often intense, for most, or all, of their lives.”

The fast food firm (a unit of YUM! Brands) has sought to defend itself in press releases and information posted on its website. However, PETA argues that these statements have misled the public – for example, it denounces as “blatantly false” KFC’s insistence that it bans suppliers from using “growth-promoting substances”.

PETA wants a court injunction against such PR, which it labels “deceptive advertising practices”.

KFC, however, dismissed the suit as “one in a continuing series of publicity stunts” and declared: “We stand by our information as truthful and accurate.”

Data sourced from: The Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff