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KFC China report sales down due to bird flu fears

Publicity over a new strain of bird flu is turning customers away from KFC.

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A woman eats a chicken leg at a Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) outlet in Beijing. (Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images)

KFC in China is feeling the impact of a new strain of bird flu with sales down for March.

Yum Brands, the parent company of KFC, said the rising death toll from Avian flu has had a "significant, negative impact on KFC sales",  BBC reported.

While refusing to give dollar figures, it said sales at KFC fell 16%.

More from GlobalPost: China H7N9 bird flu death toll rises to 9

"Historically in these situations, we have educated consumers that properly cooked chicken is perfectly safe to eat, and we will continue to do so," Yum said, AP reported.

Yum Brands, which has more than 39,000 locations worldwide, was only just recovering from another controversy which saw a 20 per cent drop for January and February following a TV report that its suppliers were giving chickens unapproved levels of antibiotics.

The death toll from the latest bird flu outbreak in China rose to nine Wednesday after two more people infected with the new strain died.

A total of 28 people in China have been infected by H7N9, CNN reported.

Yum Brands is a rapidly expanding company and China has been a critical engine of growth for the company because of the country's rapidly growing ranks of middle-class consumers.

The chief executive David Novak said the company has overcome major ordeals in the past, including a bird flu scare in 2005 that saw sales drop by as much as 40 percent, AP reported. 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/china/130411/kfc-china-report-sales-down-due-bird-flu-fears