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13/06/01 . IANS . The Economic Times . India
Now, Texas Hindus file suit against McDonald’s
AFTER Seattle vegetarians, it is now the turn of Texas Hindus to charge fast food giant McDonald’s with deceptive trade practices in a class action lawsuit over the issue of beef-flavored french fries.
The lawsuit, filed in the district court in Travis County, Austin, on June 8 on behalf of "all Hindus in Texas and others similarly situated," alleges Hindu moral and religious principles have been violated by their unintentional consumption of the fries allegedly flavoured with beef since 1990.
"The plaintiffs have all eaten McDonald’s french fries in the state of Texas and other states, believing, and having been led to believe, that they contained no beef," the lawsuit alleged.
"The plaintiffs were in fact explicitly informed that McDonald’s french fries contained no animal products and relied upon such representations to their detriment."
A Seattle-based Indian American lawyer had filed a lawsuit against McDonald’s last month on behalf of all vegetarians. Named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed by lawyers Arvind Mahendru and his brother Ashish Mahendru are Sat Bansal, Bhagubhai K Patel, Pushker Raj, of Travis County, who have all frequented McDonald’s, and all others similarly placed.
"The plaintiffs, who do not consume beef in any form for ethical, philosophical, moral and/or religious reasons, were fraudulently induced to purchase and consume McDonald’s french fries and other products based upon its misrepresentations and were thereby damaged," the lawsuit alleged.
Last month, in an apparent bid to soothe feathers ruffled by public knowledge that its fries contain beef-flavoring, McDonald’s had apologised for the confusion.
"We regret if customers felt that the information we provided was not complete enough to meet their needs. If there was confusion, we apologise," said a message posted on the American Web site of the McDonald’s USA french fries facts.
But news reports, quoting the company, said the apology did not mean it was admitting to claims that it misled millions of customers by "secretly" adding beef extract to its fries.
"McDonald’s has operations in India; therefore, it cannot plead ignorance to the dietary constraints of Hindus," Ashish Mahendru said. "McDonald’s should have realised there is diversity in our communities in the US and should have fully disclosed that it was adding beef product to its french fries."
The lawsuit alleges that from 1990 till present the defendants fraudulently and intentionally concealed their use of beef in their fries and other products from the plaintiffs and advertised these products as containing vegetable oil and/or natural flavouring.
"The plaintiffs had no knowledge that defendants were using beef in their french fries and other products," it said.
Besides McDonald’s Corporation,
McDonald’s restaurants of Texas
and Haljohn Holdings Inc, distributors
of McDonald’s, have also been
named as defendants in the lawsuit, a
notice for which has been sent
to the company.