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Grilled Vs. Fried Chicken for KFC -- Let the Courts Decide?

A group of KFC franchisees are suing the chicken chain -- in part, for shifting its advertising focus towards grilled chicken at the expense of the traditional product for which the company was named.

But the bigger issue is how the company treats its franchises. When Roger Eaton stepped in as president and chief concept officer in 2008, the franchisees allege, "KFC executives began dismissing franchise owners' input, refusing to attend meetings and adopting a take-it-or-leave-it attitude." The suit aims to rectify this state of affairs in general -- but grilled versus fried is the biggest specific point of disagreement.

This is at least the third lawsuit inspired by KFC's debut of grilled chicken. The first was over the Oprah Winfrey debacle, when the talk show star generated so much interest in the company's grilled chicken giveaway that many stores ran out of product. Two customers sued, calling it a "scam to deceive its customers into spending more dough."

Another lawsuit was filed in California by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, which said the new chicken was in violation of state law requiring disclosure of potentially carcinogenic products. A group of compounds called PhIP is found in grilled chicken -- in all grilled meat, in fact -- and the physicians group, which advocates vegetarianism, has filed similar lawsuits against pretty much every other fast food chain in the state.