FACT CHECK: Did a KFC customer find a batter-fried rat in his order of Chicken Tenders?

Claim:   A KFC customer found a batter-fried rat in his order of Chicken Tenders.

  FALSE

Origins:   As we noted in our “Critter Fritter” page, the tale of a customer who picks up some fried chicken from a fast food outlet discovers that an unusual-tasting piece is actually a batter-fried rat is one of the hoariest of food contamination urban legends, exceeded in age and ubiquity only by the infamous “mouse in a Coke bottle” rumor.

Nonetheless, in June 2015, Devorise Dixon of Watts, California, caused a social media stir when he posted photographs to Facebook of what he claimed was a batter-fried rat he had found in a box of Chicken Tenders he purchased from a Compton, California KFC outlet:

DON’T EAT FAST FOOD!!! I WENT TO KFC YESTERDAY AND BOUGHT A 3PIECE CHICKEN TENDER. AS I BIT INTO IT I NOTICED THAT IT WAS VERY HARD AND RUBBERY WHICH MADE ME LOOK AT IT. AS I LOOKED DOWN AT IT I NOTICED THAT IT WAS WAS IN A SHAPE OF A RAT WITH A TAIL. IT SENT DEEP CHILLS THROUGHOUT MY WHOLE BODY! I’VE BEEN FEELING WEIRD EVER SINCE. I BOUGHT THIS IN COMPTON, CA ON WILMINGTON AND 120TH. I’VE NEVER SEEN CHICKEN LIKE THIS BEFORE ITS SICK!!!

In addition to posting several images of the alleged fried rat on social media, the customer claimed he placed the “rat” in a sealed bag, froze it, and took it to KFC to complain to a store manager about it — and the manager improbably concurred that the Chicken Tender was in fact a rodent:

WENT BACK TO KFC YESTERDAY AND SPOKE TO THE MANAGER SHE SAID IT IS A RAT AND APOLOGIZED, IT’S TIME FOR A LAWYER!!! BESAFE DON’T EAT FAST FOOD !!!

However, what’s seen in the posted photographs appears to be quite simply a vaguely rodent-shaped Chicken Tender, with a tail-like attachment that’s likely nothing more than a strip of loose skin.

KFC initially responded to the social media hubbub by indicating that they were investigating the issue but were having difficulty contacting the complainant, while suggesting that what the customer in question had received was nothing more than an oddly-shaped Chicken Tender:

KFC takes customer claims very seriously, and we are continuing to investigate this matter. Our chicken tenders often vary in size and shape, and we currently have no evidence to support this claim. We are aggressively trying to reach Mr. Dixon, and we request that he return to the restaurant with the product for testing, or call us at 1-800-Call-KFC.

The company subsequently noted the complainant’s lack of cooperation and branded his claim a hoax:

A customer has made a serious claim against KFC and refuses to cooperate in the investigation. The images the customer originally posted do not include this second angle [seen below] because it clearly shows it’s a piece of hand-breaded white meat chicken. Based on this, and the fact that he refuses to allow anyone to see the product, we are left to believe that he intended to deceive the public with this hoax and we are considering all options.

Last updated:   17 June 2015