There was panic on the streets of London as the "KFC crisis" rolled into its fourth day, and more than half of the chain's 900 UK stores closed because of a chicken shortage.

Frustrated chicken lovers have resorted to contacting their MPs and calling the police, who warned "fried chicken is not a police matter".

Staff keen to get back to work reportedly took matters into their own hands, and KFC told the Telegraph it is "urgently investigating" reports of workers in Kent smuggling what looked like meat from the local butcher into the back door of the premises. The chain is also looking into reports that staff in West London asked a local butcher for all their chicken stock.

A notice is displayed on the door of a temporarily closed branch of KFC, explaining they have had a delivery hiccup in the Surbiton suburb of south west, London. Photo / AP
A notice is displayed on the door of a temporarily closed branch of KFC, explaining they have had a delivery hiccup in the Surbiton suburb of south west, London. Photo / AP

The fried chicken company has said it has strict food safety policies, and staff should not be taking chicken from local butchers.

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The shortage appears to be indefinite, as the company said it is unclear when the supply issue will be resolved, the Daily Telegraph UK reports.

The chain switched its delivery contract from South African-owned distribution group Bidvest, which describes itself as "the leading supplier of logistical and supply chain solutions to the UK hospitality and restaurant sector", to DHL last week, which blamed "operational issues" for the disruption. Workers have been encouraged to take holiday until stores re-open.

A closed sign is seen outside a KFC restaurant near Ashford, England. Photo / AP
A closed sign is seen outside a KFC restaurant near Ashford, England. Photo / AP

Although KFC has put up a special website page, detailing which stores are open and updating it as they re-open, there appears to be worry and confusion about the situation.

Bermondsey MP Neil Coyle said constituents had been asking him when they will next be able to eat Kentucky Fried Chicken.

He tweeted: "I've been contacted by disappointed #KFC customers on Borough High St #SE1 & Walworth Rd #SE17 today."

Luke Pollard, MP for Plymouth Sutton & Devonport tweeted: "Have had my first person get in touch to ask what's happening with #KFC... and the answer is, I don't know (yet)."

Tower Hamlets Police tweeted: "Please do not contact us about the #KFCCrisis - it is not a police matter if your favourite eatery is not serving the menu that you desire."

The Metropolitan Police confirmed to the Telegraph that people had been making time-wasting calls about KFC and stressed that fried chicken is not a police matter.

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Many upset customers have taken to social media describing the situation as an "apocalypse" .

One Twitter user fretted: "The world is gonna end soon - how's kfc running out of chicken?"

Political commentator Jane Merrick tweeted: "The #KFCCrisis chicken shortage is the kind of thing that could accidentally bring down a government."

A KFC spokesperson told the Telegraph: "We've closed some of our restaurants because we won't compromise the quality of our food. We're investigating this urgently and will take any necessary steps."

A DHL spokesperson said: "Due to operational issues a number of deliveries in recent days have been incomplete or delayed. We are working with KFC and our partners to rectify the situation."