An Auckland family has sworn off KFC after their chicken and chips came with a side of writhing maggots.
Christina, who did not want her last name used, said the family got the chicken meal from the Botany Downs store about 3.30pm yesterday.
They took it home and left it on the bench for a couple of hours before dishing it up for their 11-year-old daughter, 7-year-old son and the children's grandfather about 5.30pm.
Christina and her husband then went out for a short time and were surprised to find on their return that the meal hadn't been finished.
They were even more surprised - and horrified - when they found out why; daughter Chinen had been about to take a bite of chicken when she looked down to find it writhing with maggots.
"Luckily she looked before she put it into her mouth,'' Christina said.
"She was like `there's maggots in my chicken' - she was a little teary-eyed.''
Christina said there were about 20 live maggots in the small piece of chicken.
"I've never seen anything like this, I've never heard anything like this - it's totally crazy.''
Their grandfather was a vegetarian so hadn't eaten any of the chicken, while Christina had cut up her son's chicken before leaving the house so knew his was OK.
General manager of KFC Brent Kitto said the company prided itself on an ``excellent food safety record and have rigorous procedures and systems specifically designed to prevent this kind of occurrence''.
The branch where the meals were bought had an A grade in food safety, he said.
It was "highly unlikely'' the maggots came from the store as fly eggs took 8-24 hours to hatch, he said.
Mr Kitto believed the meal could have become contaminated in the two hours before it was eaten.
"Our chicken is delivered fresh instore each day, cooked fresh every half hour and discarded after 1.5 hours. Our cooking methods would also kill any such foreign matter.''
"We would like the opportunity to test a sample of the larvae, to determine whether it was exposed to heat or not, in which case it is unlikely to have come from KFC.''
But Christina rejected the possibility the maggots could be the family's fault for leaving the meal on the bench for two hours before eating it, saying: "I don't think maggots will develop in that time.
"I think it's one of those old chicken (pieces) that they have and it just kept on going around and never got picked up, and then it's still there after I don't know how long.''
Christina contacted Food Safety officials over the find today.
She said the family had previously eaten KFC about once every six weeks. Asked whether they would ever have it again, she had one word: "Never.''