Jollibee said its food preparation was "carefully developed" to deliver "excellent quality products and customer satisfaction" after the star of its menu, Chickenjoy, was thrust in under the social media spotlight.
A woman claimed she got a deep-fried towel instead of chicken, prompting the temporary closure of the store that served her and the retraining of some staff. As the Philippines' largest fastfood chain investigates what happened, loyal customers who have long associated Jollibee with their childhood happy meals expressed their support.
Former crew members also gave a glimpse at how Chickenjoy is prepared to show how difficult it must have been to sneak a battered towel into the fryer. How does Chickenjoy get from the farm to your takeout box? Here's what we know based on public statements and stock exchange disclosures.
The chicken comes from a commisary
Call it a central palengke. A commissary supplies chicken to Jollibee branches nationwide.
Jollibee in 2017 partnered with America's Cargill to form Cargill Joy to build the Philippines' largest poultry processing plant that can produce up to 45 million ready-to-cook chickens per year.
Having a commissary ensures quality across all branches. That's why Chickenjoy tastes largely the same anywhere in the country.
The Jollibee and Cargill venture is called C-Joy.
Delivering the chicken is a huge operation
Remember 2014's #Chickensad? That year, Chickenjoy temporarily disappeared from the menu due to a "systems upgrade" in the delivery stytem. That incident prompted the C-Joy venture to give Jollibee more control over supply and logistics.
How is Chickenjoy cooked?
Gerald Medina, who formerly worked as a fryman and eventually a production controller at Jollibee, said Chickenjoy undergoes a stringent inspection and cooking process before being served to customers. He shared on Facebook what he knew about the process.
The nitty-gritty of food preparation is a secret for most restaurants, like KFC's 11 herbs and spices. Chickenjoy, like Max's has inspired so many food hacks on YouTube.
Contrary to what many people think, the Chickenjoy is still not breaded when it arrives to the Jollibee store. Remember at the start of the lockdown in 2020 when Jollibee sold frozen ready-to-cook Chickenjoy? Those too didn't come with breading.
According to Medina's post, which he allowed reportr to use, the crew first ensures that the chicken parts are properly thawed by taking its temperature. They will then inspect if there are chicken parts that are too small or bad. The thawing process alone would allow the crew to see if there are other items that came with the packaging, including a towel.
Once all inspection is done, the chicken part will undergo the breading process. Approximately 13 grams of breading should cover the chicken part. Medina said the crew should also shake off the excess breading using his wrist.
After the chicken part is breaded, Medina said it will be dropped to the fryer for pressure cooking. Once cooking is done, the fryman will take the temperature of the chicken again before placing it in the warmer station.
With the meticulous process Jollibee implements in cooking Chickenjoy, Medina finds it incomprehensible how a towel made its way into the fryer without being seen by the crew.
"Kapag ia-assemble na yung product, iba ang timbang nung isang Chickenjoy sa isang towel lalo na kung matagal ka na sa fastfood. Ang term namin dyan is may timbangan ka na sa kamay," he said.
He added that the production controller also ensures that Jollibee's standard processes in food preparation are being followed.
In an earlier statement, Jollibee expressed deep concern as it conducted a thorough investigation on the incident.
"It is unfortunate that deviations from Jollibee's standard food preparation procedures occurred on the part of certain personnel of the store," it added.