Yum Brands Calls in Experts to Combat New York Rats

Yum Brands said it has hired an urban pest control expert to review standards of its New York City restaurants a week after television cameras filmed rats scurrying around a KFC/Taco Bell.

Yum, the operator of the KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut chains, also said it was working with the health department to ensure that all of its restaurants meet the city's cleanliness and health standards.

Yum said it engaged Dr. Robert "Bobby" Corrigan, "a renowned expert in the area of pest control in challenging urban environments," to independently review the standards it requires of operators in New York City.

Last week, television stations ran coverage of apparently well-fed rats running wild and appearing at home in a KFC/Taco Bell outlet in New York City's West Village.

Yum said earlier this week that the incident was an isolated event. The company has said the restaurant is owned by a franchisee, who also owns other Yum outlets.

According to the New York City Health Department Web site, the KFC/Taco Bell restaurant was cited for rat or mice problems no fewer than four times in the past three years.

Last year, the restaurant was cited for 14 violations including inadequate personal cleanliness; evidence of roaches or live roaches in the food; and evidence of mice or live mice present in the facility's food and/or non-food areas.

The latest issue came after more than 100 people fell seriously ill after an E.coli outbreak linked to Taco Bell lettuce in December.

That incident led to a sharp sales drop at Taco Bell, and its performance has not yet fully recovered, Yum executives said last month.