McDonald's VsJungleburger documentary
This is a prize-winning documentary ('Jungleburger') made by the German film-maker Peter Heller and widely broadcast since 1983. By interviewing and filming key personnel involved in all links of the chain, it adds up to an expose of how Central and South American tropical forests are being destroyed to be replaced by cattle production for export to the USA and other industrialised countries. McDonald's tried to supress the showing of the documentary in the UK and abroad but it continues to be shown and has been used as evidence in the McLibel trial. The documentary establishes the connection between McDonald's and rainforest depletion. Regardless of this McDonald's were able to extract an apology from Channel Four (UK).
More information about Jungleburger, including the 30-second VideoClip to download of the key moment.
In this action for libel I appear on behalf of the Plaintiffs, McDonald's Corporation and McDonald's Restaurants Limited, and my friend Mr. Skrein appears for the Defendant, Channel Four Television Company Limited. The first Plaintiff is the owner of the well-known McDonald's Restaurant chain in the United States of America and throughout the rest of the world.
The second Plaintiff is responsible for managing McDonald's Restaurants within the United Kingdom.
On 12th March 1989, Channel Four broadcast a programme entitled 'Jungleburger'. This film, which was made by the German company Filmkraft Filmproduktion and directed by Peter Heller, highlighted the destruction of the world's rainforest and, in particular, the rainforest of Costa Rica. It showed how that destruction was a cause of damage to the environment and to the economy and social stability of Costa Rica. The film referred to McDonald's and implied that they purchased beef from Costa Rica for use in McDonald's restaurants outside Costa Rica and were thereby to blame for the destruction of that country's ranforest and the consequent damage to its environment, economy and social stability. The impression was also conveyed that the first Plaintiff was being dishonest when it denied purchasing beef from Costa Rica for consumption in the United States of America and was thereby seeking to avoid its responsibility for the damage caused by its activities there.
As the Defendant now acknowledges, McDonald's are not engaged in the destruction of the rainforest in Costa Rica in order to raise cattle for hamburgers for consumption in the United States of America and accordingly the programme should not have given the impression of dishonesty on the part of McDonald's to which I have referred. The fact of the matter is that in the United Kingdom McDonald's use 100 per cent EEC produced beef, in Canada they use 100 per cent Canadian beef and in the United States they use 100 per cent United States beef. McDonald's Restaurants in Costa Rica only use suppliers who can prove that their beef has come from long-established cattle ranches - not from rain forest land.
To its credit the Defendant appears today by its Solicitor to apologise to the Plaintiffs. In addition the Defendant has agreed to meet the Plaintiffs' costs in bringing these proceedings. In these circumstances the Plaintiffs are repared to let the matter rest.
Dated this 21st day of May 1990.