9 May - 15 May 1996

Each week McSpotlight will bring you the latest news on worldwide protests and campaigning events against McDonald's and other multinationals.

Big Mac equals Heart Attack: It's Official

From Pamela at the VivaVegie Society,
9th May 1996,
New York City, USA

On Thursday May 9th, 1996, McDonald's contrived to stage - from beginning to end - a grand launch of its new "grown-up burger," the Arch Deluxe, and the media, well, they just kind of yawned.

No amount of money, apparently, was spared by McDonald's in its effort to get the media to cover this one-day extravaganza - $75 million, according to Ad Age. It was a media blitz to end all blitzes. But even with all this, it seems the media dragged their feet. This time it was just too blatant. The media drew the line. They sent a message to corporate America. You can buy advertising, but you just can't buy the news straight out.

From what I could pick up, CNN and Headline News chose to ignore the burger giant's antics altogether. I'm pretty sure WABC simply didn't cover it at all on its evening news. I'm not sure about CBS's evening news either. Some of the local papers covered it; but some did not. The New York Times covered the story as an advertising phenomenon in its business section.

I do know that WNBC did cover the event on its evening news. But lo and behold, a vegetarian group got a few seconds to show one of its activists wearing a sign board that read:

"Arch Deluxe
Arch Stupidity

I know. Because it was my vegetarian group that was portrayed! Indeed, though not named in the WNBC story, The VivaVegie Society was shown, via activist Jonathan Staal, passing out (no-less) McLibel and "Beyond Beef" literature at 50th Street and 6th Avenue in Manhattan - across the street from Radio City Music Hall where the main events of the McDonald's launch took place. A couple hundred copies of the new edition of my "101 Reasons Why I'm a Vegetarian" were also distributed to passers-by, many of whom had coupons, they had just received, for Arch Deluxe in their hands.

A note about the WABC evening news. Not only did it snub the McDonald's media come-on, the network broadcaster opted to, no less, cover a story about a new medical study. And not just any medical study... This study, out of the cardiology department of the University of Maryland, showed that even those with low cholesterol levels, who eat low fat foods most of the time, can be at risk for heart attacks, even after one, repeat one, high-fat meal.

The news segment showed that the researchers had admittedly gone into the study with the assumption that anyone with a low cholesterol level is able to eat just about anything from time to time without the risk of heart attack. Their own research proved these assumptions wrong.

The WABC segment explained some of the methodology used by the researchers looking to evaluate the health of blood vessels after an assault of fat on the blood:

(Keep in mind that all of the subjects in the study had low, or moderately low cholesterol levels, that is in the range of 150 to 200.)

First: the circulation in the arm of the subject was blocked off with a blood pressure cuff for several minutes; then it was removed - this, in the morning before any food was eaten. During the blood's release from blockage, the walls of the arteries were examined. When blood was allowed to flow freely again, the surge of blood acted to mimic physical and emotional stress.

The same test was given to the same subjects after they had eaten a high-fat breakfast. After blood was allowed to flow freely again, after the blood pressure cuff was removed, even these subjects with low cholesterol levels showed decreased levels of resiliency (50% less resiliency) in their arteries. By contrast, it was found that those subjects who ate a no-fat breakfast found no decrease in artery function.

What does this mean? The conclusion by the researchers was that if a person consumes a high-fat meal, he or she is less able at that time to withstand stress of various other sorts - stress that may come from strenuous exercise, tension, smoking, high blood pressure or diabetes or other risk factors... and, even if he or she has a low cholesterol level, the combination of the high-fat meal along with stress could be potentially lethal - yes, the word "lethal" was used.

"The message is clear; you have to get the fat out of the diet each and every meal," said head researcher Dr. Robert Vogel, chief of cardiology of the university's hospital.

What is even better about this story is that the food that the subjects in the study were given as representative of high-fat foods included food from, yes, McDonald's.

They showed a tray of foods the subjects were given; and on it were two McDonald's hash brown patties, an Egg McMuffin and a Sausage McMuffin.

So, on the very day that McDonald's wanted the media to be in the palm of its hand, WABC evening news told the world that food from McDonald's can strike you dead... on the spot.

McViolence against peaceful activists

From the Vegetarian Resource Centre,
May 19, 1996,
Hollywood, USA

McDonald's, who are launching a new image as "adult-friendly", were not very friendly when peaceful "baby-boomer" activists showed up at the Cinerama Dome, Hollywood on May 9 to protest at wholesale animal slaughter, rainforest destruction, and other criminal activities perpetrated by this mega-corporation.

McDonald's turned a Hollywood movie house into a giant deathburger to promote the launch of their new "product" The Arch Deluxe. If the burger we're real, it would have enough cholesterol and animal fat to give half the population of the country a heart attack.

Activists, dressed as the Grim Reaper toting a sign saying: "Death to McDonald's" and another, dressed as the brown cow with signs saying "Animal Flesh Contributes to Disease" and "Big Mac = Heart Attack" showed up at the event. With them was Barbara Peck, Director of the Benefit Network, to videotape the peaceful protest for her public access TV show: "Small World".

As the activists arrived McDonald's executives became nervous and sent out their security guard storm troopers to restrain the two activists, pushing and shoving them, even though they were on public property and had every right to be there. The McDonald's executives were clearly not happy about the activists raining on their parade, soaking the big arch deluxe bun with words of truth.

Among the unhappy suits was Ed Rensi, the president of McDonald's and Ronald McDonald dressed in a tux, who has obviously decided that deceiving little children was not enough.

The activists walked up and down in front of the live McDonald's commercial on Sunset Blvd. for many hours, being seen by many motorists and people at the event. Many people honked and cheered in support of the activists as they drove by.

The security guards continued to show hostility towards the activists as they moved the protest in front of the McDonald's restaurant at Sunset and Vine. Videographer Barbara Peck continued to capture all the action. The McDonald's executives got more and more nervous about the protest and then huddled with the private security company. Soon after that the guards informed the protesters and Ms. Peck that they must leave the public walk-way in front of McDonald's. When they rightfully refused a physical assault was carried out against Barbara Peck and the activists.

The guards knocked Barbara into the street - man-handling her and her video camera. The guards then pushed the activists to the other side of the sidewalk away from McDonald's.

The incident was captured on video and will be used as evidence. Three witnesses came forward and a police report was filed with the Hollywood L.A.P.D. A lawsuit is being planned against Intercept Security and McDonald's for civil rights violations and assault and battery.

Ronald McDonald has grown up - does that mean he can be a bully? McDonald's corporation are spending $200 million to promote this adult image, but what kind of example are they giving children when their male security guards are seen to assault a woman in front of a McDonald's restaurant? Violence against women is OK?

Rodney King, the Mexican immigrants and now this incident - all of them captured on videotape. The video camera is a powerful weapon against injustice but how long it will continue to be a legal weapon depends on a new bill being pushed through the United States Congress to outlaw the use of video cameras on security guards and police.

McDonald's - grow up and take responsibility for what you are doing to the planet, human health and the animals!

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