KFC China yesterday denied accusations that it had misled customers over the ingredients used to prepare its newly launched crab dish.
The picture posted by a web user shows the Golden Crab is stuffed with fish meat.
The food, named "Golden Crab," was added to the KFC menu on the Chinese mainland on Valentine's Day as a temporary seasonal choice.
It is described as ground crab meat served fried and stuffed in a crab shell.
Though many diners visiting KFC ordered the new product, word quickly spread online and among customers after complaints the meat tasted unpleasant and could be substandard.
One of the online messages that has been widely reposted on many popular websites made the accusation that the company had cheated diners by using much "cheaper" fish meat instead of sea crabs.
The author said he had tried the dish at KFC and also uploaded a picture of a half-finished "Golden Crab," which seemed to show the presence of fish bones mixed with the meat inside the shell, raising questions over the quality of the product.
However, KFC said in a statement yesterday it "highly suspects" that the fish bone photo story is not from a real dining experience at KFC and very likely a prank by netizens. The KFC management also said it had tried actively to find and contact the author of the story, but so far its efforts have proved in vain.
Denying any fish meat is used in making the dish, KFC said all the crabs are purchased in bulk from fishermen in Zhoushan in Zhejiang Province. It insisted the cooking process strictly follows quality control rules.
Two of the crab suppliers also issued a joint statement yesterday defending the genuineness of the main ingredient.
They said the crab used is called Ovalipes Punctatus, a wild ocean crab dwelling in the East and South China seas.
The companies claimed the KFC orders have helped boost the crab business in Zhoushan, but the spread of "rumors and misunderstanding" about the KFC product now risks tainting the reputation of the local fishing industry.
A poster of Golden Crab.