Fried Chicken Feels The Heat

Ep 1/1

Friday 17 May



At a time when what people eat is under increasing scrutiny, Yasmeen Khan investigates the fast-food outlet that raises questions about health and diet - the chicken shop.

There are over 1,700 places in the UK where chicken wings, legs and thighs are dipped in batter and herbs, fried and served up with chips. Ranging from the Colonel’s market-leader, to the humble chicken and chip shop in the high street, they serve thousands of customers every day.

In the London Borough of Tower Hamlets there are 45 providers of fast food and snacks for each school, and it's a major concern in their Public Health Department. Yasmeen talks to Tower Hamlets' dietician Michele Sandelson about that Borough's efforts to educate schoolchildren about over-indulging in fatty foods.

Chicken shop owners are encouraged to ban trans fats from their cooking process, and to 'shake, bang and hang' the baskets which come out of the fryer. Fiona Crawford of Glasgow's Centre for Population Health is likewise concerned about the levels of child obesity in Scotland, and is advising on how to restrict outlets near schools. London's Healthier Eating Commitment adds its own missionary zeal, as does Diane Abbott, MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, where she identifies similar problems among the younger electorate.

But, as Yasmeen admits, there's no doubt that fried chicken can be a tasty dish. She visits KFC HQ and meets Chris Fells, the Product Excellence Director, who shows her the kitchens where new menus are tried out, but Colonel Sanders' spicy secret is kept well under wraps. Mr Massood, who runs Tasty Chick'n Pizza has no such mysteries and lists cinnamon, ginger, garlic and cumin. And for chef and TV cook Gizzi Erskine, fried chicken is up there among the most memorable dishes she prepares.

Producer/ Richard Bannerman, A Ladbroke Production

BBC Radio 4 Publicity