A West Auckland woman and her partner have been left sickened after they chowed into their KFC chicken, only to find what looked to be fly eggs on their meal.
On Sunday, Susan and her boyfriend had purchased an eight-pack of wicked wings from KFC Westgate and returned home to enjoy their meal.
But after getting halfway through they claimed they discovered a grouping of legless maggot larvae sitting in the coating of a wicked wing.
Feeling sick and fearing another piece of chicken had been contaminated, Susan rushed to the bathroom where she vomited her meal up.
KFC, however, said it was highly unlikely the eggs came from its store due to its high temperature cooking processes.
Speaking to the Herald, Susan’s boyfriend said the experience was sickening.
“We got home and we tucked in straight away. We ate a few pieces but towards the end she grabbed another wicked wing and that’s when she saw the maggot eggs.
“She went to the bathroom and put her fingers down her throat to vomit. She just felt so sick seeing the fly maggot lavae and was worried they may have been on a previous piece of chicken.
“We googled what maggot eggs looked like and once we saw it we knew it was maggots. It’s so sickening. Just makes you feel yuck.”
The couple claims they headed straight home from the KFC branch and didn’t open the packaging until they began to eat just minutes after walking through the door.
Following their find, they made a complaint to MPI.
In response to the couple’s claims, a KFC spokesperson told the Herald they haven’t received a complaint about this particular case.
KFC also explained its cooking processes, supporting the idea that the alleged fly eggs are very unlikely to have come from the store.
“At KFC we pride ourselves in food safety and take all customer complaints seriously but have not received a complaint relating to the purchase of Wicked Wings from KFC Westgate on Sunday 19th March.
“KFC Chicken is cooked under pressure with the product cooked at +100C, reaching an internal temperature above 85C. The fly eggs as per the photo would not survive the cooking process.
“Products at KFC restaurants are served at a temperature greater than 60C, this is in line with the requirements of the Food Act 2014.
“Flies will only land and lay their eggs on surfaces between 10C and 40C. Raw chicken is held below 5C in store and the product reaches an internal temperature above 85C during cooking with the chicken held (post-cook) above 60C in store.”
It takes on average 24 to 48 hours for fly eggs to hatch into legless maggot larvae. Once they become larvae, they feed from the egg-laying site for three to five days before they find a dark place to pupate.
Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) New Zealand Food Safety deputy director-general Vincent Arbuckle confirmed to the Herald they received a complaint and are looking into it.
But while photos are helpful, he said they don’t confirm where the issue originated from.
“Food safety is our number one priority in these matters and if there were issues to address we would take appropriate action.
“However, we need to consider every complaint on its merits. Pictures are certainly useful, but they are not enough by themselves to draw any conclusions about what went wrong, or indeed if the contamination occurred at the business or after purchase. This is why it is important not to apportion blame to businesses until the facts can be established.”
In response to questions around whether flies could lay eggs in warming drawers, he said they wouldn’t survive cooking processes and don’t land on hot food, but indicated they do lay eggs on warm food.
Arbuckle said if it was found that flies laid eggs during any process of the food preparation then this would be a major failure of process.
“With respect to your question about warming drawers and cooking, every food business is responsible for identifying and managing potential risks to food safety. If flies are allowed to lay eggs in food at any stage of food preparation, that would be a failure of process and would need to be addressed.
“Fly eggs/maggots do not survive cooking processes and flies do not lay eggs/maggots on hot food, they do however lay on warm food.”
There have been a number of alleged cases of fly eggs on KFC chicken, including in Auckland in February 2021, Hawke’s Bay in December 2021, Papakura in February 2019, and Hamilton in March 2017.
When questioned about these alleged incidents, KFC said “none of these reported cases have been proven”.
MPI also said it hasn’t seen or been made aware of any “systemic problem” with KFC and that a handful of complaints is expected given the large quantity of food it delivers every year.
“Complaints are to be expected and are an important part of the process of identifying potential issues. We reiterate, however, that complaints do not necessarily mean there is an issue.”