- McDonald's -

Read this; it might shed some light.

Posted by: Gideon Hallett ( UK ) on February 24, 1999 at 18:36:39:

In Reply to: This is unreal! posted by Jackie Harris on February 18, 1999 at 10:51:14:

: Ray Crock founded Mc Donalds, beginning with a small cart on the corner of his home town, selling hamburgers for pocket change.

Wrong. Ray Kroc started out as a milkshake machine salesman. It's only when he saw the fast food operation run by the McDonald brothers that he decided he could make money there.

: He didn't build his empire on the backs of others like many, if not most, of the corportations in America today that bombard us with propaganda.

McDonald's spends billions a year on advertising; they are major advertisers at sporting events, have a large amount of commercial airtime on television and spend large amounts of money on billboard advertising.

At the same time, they pay their low-level staff as close to the minimum wage as is legally possible, and are responsible for bringing down average conditions across the whole of the fast food industry.

: I don't understand what's admirable about bringing down a company that was successful because of ethical business practices.

If I might quote a few words from a representative of the British legal system (Justice Rodger Bell, judge in the McLibel trial, to be precise):

("The Plaintiffs" are McDonald's US and McDonald's UK, who brought the trial to court.)

In my judgement a diet high in fat (including saturated fat) and animal products, and low in fibre, sustained over very many years, probably does lead to a very real risk of heart disease in due course.

... the small proportion of McDonald's customers who eat McDonald's food several times a week will take the very real risk of heart disease if they continue to do so throughout their lives, encouraged by the Plaintiffs' advertising.

... I do find that various of the First and Second Plaintiffs' advertisements, promotions and booklets have pretended to a positive nutritional benefit which McDonald's food, high in fat and saturated fat and animal products and sodium, and at one time low in fibre, did not match.

Which basically says "their food is unhealthy, they encourage people to eat it to unhealthy levels and they pretend in their advertising that it is healthy"

So, that's lying to their customers. Ethical?

Let's continue with Justice Bell's verdict:

... the sting of the leaflet to the effect that the Plaintiffs exploit children by using them, as more susceptible subjects of advertising, to pressurise their parents into going to McDonald's is justified. It is true.

That's exploiting parents by targeting ads at children (because children don't have very good critical faculties) and getting them to pester their parents into going to McDonald's. Ethical?

To continue with Bell's verdict:

.. the First and Second Plaintiffs are culpably responsible for cruel practices in the rearing and slaughter of some of the animals which are used to produce their food...

That's cruelty to animals; in their quest for cost-cutting, they support conditions of animal-keeping that are cruel (not to mention unhealthy). Ethical?

And finally, on the subject of the workers:

The Second Plaintiff does pay its workers low wages, thereby helping to depress wages for workers in the catering trade in Britain. To this extent the defamatory charge in the leaflet is partly justified.

That's exploitation of the workers. Ethical?

Now, this is the verdict of the British legal system. It's not what you'd call a radical group in any way. It says quite clearly that McDonald's are guilty of exploiting their staff, exploiting children, promoting an unhealthy diet, misleading their customers and cruelty to animals.

Would you call deception, cruelty and exploitation "ethical"?

I wouldn't; that is why I consider McDonald's to be a deeply unethical company.


(Furthermore, in the appeal, McDonald's said they were not arguing with any of Justice Bell's findings in the verdict; McDonald's accept as true all of the above quoted bits of text (in bold). If you're still undecided, let me quote an internal company memorandum from 1986 regarding the "nutrition" issue:

"McDonald's should attempt to deflect the basic negative thrust of our critics.....How do we do this? By talking 'moderation and balance'. We can't really address or defend nutrition. We don't sell nutrition and people don't come to McDonald's for nutrition".

Happy eating...)

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