The Los Altos-based Harman Mangement Corporation and the KFC Corporation, the corporate parents of Kentucky Fried Chicken have paid $294,000 to settle a lawsuit for health and safety violations, including improperly installing ovens that billowed smoke into kitchens.
The money will be split by the counties of Napa, Santa Clara, San Mateo and Los Angeles, whose district attorneys brought suit against the iconic fried chicken purveyor.
According the Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen's office, in 2009 the company and its franchisees rolled out its grilled chicken line with its new Blodgett ovens.
But some facilities in Northern California began experiencing unsafe smoke ventilation issues, and the district attorneys alleged that KFC Corporation and Harman Management Corporation violated provisions of the California Retail Food Code when they did not properly advise or supervise their franchisees in complying with the requirements for submitting plans and obtaining prior approval from local environmental health authorities.
Investigators also found plumbing and electrical issues at some franchises. District Attorney Rosen acknowledged the counties’ environmental health officials for their vigilant enforcement efforts.
“The Retail Food Code is in place to protect not only the health and safety of consumers, but also of the employees of food facilities," Rosen said. "KFC workers deserve to work in a healthy environment.”
KFC and Harman Management Corp. cooperated with prosecutors during the investigation. KFC and Harman agreed to pay $200,000 in civil penalties and $94,000 in costs to settle the lawsuit, which will be dedicated to further consumer protection actions in the four counties, Rosen's office said.
The companies have also agreed to an injunction that prohibits them from violating California Health & Safety Code sections in the future, and will provide specific notice to their franchisees of California’s environmental health requirements.
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