LONDON--The chief executive for Britain of fast-food giant McDonald's told a High Court libel hearing on Thursday that meals sold in its 521 British outlets were "perfectly safe and healthy."
Paul Preston, who said McDonald's sells 490 million meals each year in Britain, said: "Taken in balance with sleep and exercise, they are perfectly safe and perfectly healthy."
Preston was giving evidence in the company's libel action against environmental campaigners Dave Morris and Helen Steel, who have accused it of poisoning customers and exploiting its workforce, Third World countries and animals.
McDonald's has sued the pair, who are conducting their own defense, over what the company calls a "malicious" leaflet distributed four years ago entitled "What's Wrong With McDonald's? Everything They Don't Want You To Know."
The company's lawyer, Richard Rampton, has said the leaflet was "completely false in every material respect."
But the two campaigners, unemployed members of a group called London Greenpeace, say they can prove all their allegations are correct. London Greenpeace has no connection with the international environmental group.
The case, which is being heard by a lone judge because of its complexity, is expected to last for four months.