The company that owns KFC is trying to dispel rumors that it genetically modified its meat and manufactured an eight-legged, six-winged chicken to serve to customers.

Yum Brands Inc., which owns China’s largest fried-chicken chain, said in a statement Monday that it has sued three companies there that have been spreading false rumors on social media — among them that the restaurant delivered maggot-infested food and created a deformed chicken. It wants $242,000 and an apology from all three defendants.

“The rumors about KFC using chickens with six wings and eight legs have been around a long time,” the company said in its statement, which is written in Chinese on its Web site. It also said it would be impossible to create such an animal and that if KFC actually succeeded in doing so, it could be a contender for the Nobel Prize, Reuters reported.

Yum filed a lawsuit against three companies — Shanxi Weilukuang Technology, Taiyuan Zero Point Technology and Yingchenanzhi Success and Culture Communication — accusing them of sharing articles and photos on the social media app WeChat to fuel false rumors and tarnish the restaurant’s reputation, according to the Associated Press. It said KFC found some 4,000 messages that had been read more than 100,000 times.

Shanghai Xuhui District People’s Court accepted the case, a press officer told the Associated Press.

KFC, which has more than 4,600 restaurants in China, has been fighting for its reputation for years. In 2012, Chinese media outlets reported that a KFC supplier had been using growth hormones and antibiotics to grow larger chickens, Wall Street Journal reported. The accusations spurred fears about the country’s food safety. Then last year, KFC, along with McDonald’s and Pizza Hut, had to apologize to customers after a supplier was caught on video violating safety regulations — picking up meat from the factory floor and tossing it into mixers and touching meat on the assembly line with bare hands. There were also complaints that the meat was expired.

“When I saw that, I said, ‘Uh-oh, here’s six to nine months of problems,’” Yum chief executive David Novak told investors at the time.

Yum has since said it would work to build up standards for suppliers and establish a whistleblower system so employers and suppliers could report food safety violations.

KFC’s China CEO Qu Cuirong said in a statement that it is difficult for companies to guard against falsehoods, because it’s hard to get evidence, the Associated Press reported. “But the stepped-up efforts by the government in recent years to purify the online environment, as well as some judicial interpretations, have offered us confidence and weapons,” she said.