Small fries, big headaches
Agency alleges McDonald's spuds are underweight
By Stefan Korshak
POST STAFF WRITER
A government consumer protection agency is accusing
McDonald's restaurants in Ukraine of skimping on their
servings of French fries and violating other food industry
regulations over the last three months.
Ukrainian Consumer Rights Protection Directorate (UCRPD)
chief Klavdia Sytnik said her inspectors found that the two
McDonald's outlets in Kyiv and one in Kharkiv open when the
probe began June 17 served up portions of fries weighing on
average 25 percent less than the McDonald's standard of 110
grams per serving of a small order of fries.
"You multiply that by a thousand customers a day, and
that's a lot of stolen potatoes," she said.
A McDonald's spokesman denied the charge. The 110-gram
figure for a standard serving filed by the company when its
first restaurants in Ukraine opened in May represented
weight before frying, said Steen Puggaard, senior marketing
and communications manager for McDonald's in Ukraine.
"Although we did submit to the Consumer Rights Directorate
a standard portion weight, you have to understand we are
not selling so many grams of potatoes but a bag of
McDonald's French fries," Puggaard said.
The consumer watchdogs' complaints don't end with spuds.
Government lab technicians also found that in Kyiv and
Kharkiv, McDonald's was serving ice cream products
containing 2 percent of fat, as opposed to the 10 percent
the company promised in documents filed before opening the
In addition, UCPRD inspectors cited the company for failing
to place weighing scales in the kitchen, neglecting to list
the weight of food items on its wall menus, lacking a
customer complaint book and not labeling its food products
The inspectors also accused McDonald's of permitting
irregularities in importing food products.
"We asked to see their certificates of quality. They didn't
have them," stated Kharkhiv inspector Vyacheslav Prokopenko
in a telephone interview. "Nor did we find certificates
when we came back months later."
Puggaart said McDonald's has fully complied with customs
"Of course all of our foods are imported here legally with
the appropriate certificates of quality," he said. "We
faxed them copies immediately after the inspections."
UCPRD inspectors visited the McDonald's outlets in Kyiv and
Kharkiv several times between June and September. The
purported violations became public on Oct. 15 when the TSN
news program, carried by the Studio 1+1 television company,
broadcast a report on McDonald's problems with state
Puggaard said the world's leading fast food corporation is
attempting to comply with all Ukrainian regulations.
But Sytnik, who said her agency launched the probe on
specific orders of the Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers,
charged that McDonald's has failed to respond to violations
uncovered by government inspectors.
Whatever their difficulties in communicating, Sytnik and
Puggaard appear to want the same thing.
"Our organization is financed by the Ukrainian taxpayer,
and it is our job to protect the consumer," said Sytnik.
"We are ready to work with McDonald's."
"We want to work with the consumer rights people," said