What do fast-food CEOs eat?

The boss of Yum Brands says his restaurants do carry healthful menu items. He even eats at his company's locations several times a week.

By Kim Peterson Jan 10, 2012 3:43PM
It's hard to imagine the CEO of McDonald's (MCD) sending the limo through the drive-thru to pick up dinner. Do fast-food bosses even eat their own restaurant offerings?

David Novak does. He's the chairman and CEO of Yum Brands (YUM), which operates KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut. In the following video interview on CNBC, he says he eats his company's food four to five times a week.

Post continues below.
Novak says he likes KFC's Kentucky Grilled Chicken, which the company says has about 220 calories per breast, and 90 calories per drumstick. He also likes the Fresco chicken soft tacos from Taco Bell, which the company says come to about 150 calories each.

And then on Friday and Saturday nights, he says, he pigs out with his pizza and KFC. "You can eat whatever you want, as long as you're not eating whatever you want all the time," he added.

He defended his company against criticism that fast-food chains are making America fat. The real problem is a lack of exercise and scrounging around the kitchen for high-calorie snacks late at night, he said.

People are "looking for somebody to blame for the lack of accountability that you need to take as a person," he added. Fast food amounts to only about 5% of America's total diet, he added. People need to be responsible for their own health.

Novak was asked about his company's efforts to accept food stamps at its U.S. restaurants. Yum Brands eventually had to call off the plan because of opposition from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Bloomberg reported. Novak said he thought his company's food should be accessible to everybody who wants to eat it.

But controversy in the U.S. is just a tiny part of Novak's focus. About 75% of the company's profits come from outside the U.S., and Yum has been quickly expanding in China, India and Africa.

The company's international strategy is winning high praise from investors. Yum's share price has soared nearly 21% in the past year.


Jan 10, 2012 5:59PM
What he said is true, it is people responsibility to eat healthy. Eating at a Fast-Food place will not make you fat. Do you know what will make you fat? Eating at a Fast-Food place every day. If you were to eat at a Fast-Food place one time per week or 3 times per month, guess what, you will not end up fat. People just want someone to blame on for their lack of control of what they eat.
Jan 10, 2012 6:26PM

Okay, what do those people, who ended up obese fat for eating junk food? Of course you end up fat, if you're whole diet is based on junk food that contains nothing but fat and empty calories', but that's not all, they probably not only eat junk food day after day, but also does nothing but sits at home by a computer or a TV, but never goes out for a run or something. They probably also thought good digestion would save them from it, but this is not true.

And how dare they blame others for their obese fatness? No one pulled a gun on their head and forced them to their unhealthy ways, they did it on their own. Enough said.

Jan 10, 2012 5:55PM
The point is taking accountability.  Whether or not you think that fast food is gross, the fact is that many items on fast food restaurant's menus are not as fattening as people think in comparison to what they are having at chain restaurants (or even local, neighborhood places).  The majority of restaurant food is more fattening, period. It is possible to get out of a major fast food restaurant full without having done damage to your body or diet (everyone has a diet.  This is not limited to weight loss plans, it is your daily food and drink consumption.)  If you are fat, you cannot just blame the restaurants, they did not make you this way.  You ate yourself this way.  Show some self control and a sense of ownership and accountability.  
Jan 10, 2012 6:26PM
Oh yeah let's blame all those evil money grubbing corportations'  fault for making people fat. Why they're the only ones who know the "secret"- That eating greasy, highly sugared & salted food all the time can be "unhealthy" for you. *rolls eyes*

 Gotta love how they show how much money their stock went up, as if it was some sort of crime. Why wouldn't you invest in such a sure thing? People are eating more of this crap now and are fatter than ever and will go to even greater lengths than before to try to defend their piss-poor decisions and absolute laziness.
Jan 10, 2012 6:19PM
Yeah right, I bet his "fast food" is prepared gourmet style.  No sane person would eat that garbage at the franchises.  KFC is nothing compared to what it used to be when Colonel Sanders was running things.
Jan 10, 2012 9:00PM

Jeremy 12341,

While I agree with you that using food stamps at a restaraunt would be a poor choice, who the heck are you to tell others what they should or should not do with their possesions? That specific decision about use of food stamps belongs to USDA and the issuing states.

Second, I can guarantee you that no family receives $600 in food stamps.

And finally, 99% of welfare recipients don't live that life of luxury you alluded to. We scrape by on very little, and would be so much better off with a part-time minimum wage job. But the reality is that can't physically happen for so many folks. If you work your butt off, Jeremy, hats off to you. So many of us would trade with you if we could.

Jan 10, 2012 8:03PM
I have a beef with using food stamps for fast food.  Fast food is a luxury to me.  I am not on on food stamps, yet make very low money.  I don't want my luxury once in a while food like a hamburger, burrito, Egg McMuffin or whatever being inflated by people getting 600.00 a month on food stamps.  These people need to use their food cards at stores and make their own meals.  They can inflate ingredient prices-- but don't inflate something that the rest of us who work our butts off and have still very little money-- that makes no sense.  Plus, buying foods at a grocery will make that 600.00 stretch further anyways.  They have no business going to fast food or cafe's or restaurants using tax payer money.  Just so the rest of us who have to pay for our food, have higher prices when we want to eat out.  What states let this insanity happen?  And of course this CEO wants to allow food stamps-- this provides a subsidy for demand.  But raises the rates for everyone else and its off our tax money as well-- screwed at both ends. 

I understand a family of 4 both parents working crap jobs in this economy may need food assistance for a short period until they can move up in the company or get a better job-- they maybe going to school or doing an internship whatever.  But that doesn't give them a ticket to be pigs and eat out all the time everywhere.  It is not fair for the rest of us.  And my biggest beef, it inflates the price of items.  Like pop.  If people couldn't buy pop with these cards, which most states allows it, I doubt the price for pop  6 pack would be 4.50 for a 24 ounce.  It'd be closer to what it was in 2000 like 1.99 or actually 2.50-3.00 (because its up from 12 ounce pops to 24 ounce-- main ingredient is just carbonized water).

Anyway, I personally think food stamps, people should only be allowed purchase of whole foods and ingredients.  No deserts, pop, candy, dessert pastries, TV Dinners, etc.  That can be paid for by their money as it is with everyone else has to do for all their food.  Want to eat.  Sure eat food, not junk at our expense.  Next time States come up against a budget mess which most are still, that's what they can cut out, limit items what these folks can buy as it will stretch the amount of food they get which will allow for smaller amount of money per month given. 

And jobs need to start paying enough for workers to live off of.  This slashing low level wages to near minimum wage or at minimum wage is forcing these people to get food stamps. 

This economy needs to learn lessons from the early 1900's like Henry Ford.  If you lose demand you lose business.  Increase demand by increasing pay. 

Rant over.

Jan 10, 2012 8:19PM
KFC Rocks, the double down is the most delicious food invention known to man...if you dontt like it dont go!
Jan 10, 2012 7:23PM
Hey, all things in moderation, right? Even a little e.coli can't hurt. Mr. CEO thinks you should take responsibility for your actions. You should have known their food is filled with excrement harvested at the finest CAFO supplied slaughterhouses in America.
Jan 10, 2012 6:03PM
These are the same guys that fought against listing the calorie counts on their menu items and they want us to be accountable. A bunch of two face lying crooks...
Jan 10, 2012 5:10PM
I never eat at any of their brands and my life is happier.
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