The fast food chain came under fire Wednesday from Chinese state media and a national consumer watchdog overseen by the government.
They take issue with the company’s new promotion, which allows customers to receive random selections of free, limited-edition toys with their meals. That has led to people rushing to buy too much food with no intention of eating it, according to a scathing statement by the China Consumers Association.
The toys have proven popular: According to the consumer association, some customers have paid others to eat their meals just so they can get the toys. Others simply throw away the food they can’t finish.
A few people have even bought more than 100 meals at once, spending almost 10,500 yuan (about $1,650) in an attempt to collect the full line, the watchdog said.
This is clearly “causing unnecessary food waste due to overbuying,” it added in its statement, noting that China last year rolled out new measures to prevent food waste and urged companies to help out.
The association also slammed KFC for what it described as preying on “consumers’ irrationality” to encourage them to buy more meals, “which goes against public order, good customs and the spirit of law.”
It urged consumers to “not be induced or misled into excessive consumption.”
Yum China did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“There is nothing wrong with business marketing,” it wrote. But “when planning marketing strategies, catering operators should avoid possible waste.”
— Jill Disis contributed to this report.