Army gives Big Mac its marching orders

Standard Reporter

Evening Standard; 21 November 96 (UK)

FAST-FOOD chain McDonald's has been forced to stop using radios for drive in orders at one of its restaurants because signals were interfering with secret military channels.

Managers were ordered to pull the plug on the system after being told soldiers kept getting orders of the wrong kind. Instead of being told to attack the puzzled squaddies were being asked: "Two Big Macs and fries, please."

Plain-clothes officials from the Government Radiocommunications Agency swooped on the restaurant at Stanway, near the garrison at Colchester. A McDonald's insider said: It was quite a shock when these two mysterious chaps came in and asked to speak to the manager. They flashed their ID cards and said the radio headsets we use for our drive in orders were interfering with secret military channels.

"We were told to remove the fuse from the system and not replace it until urgent adjustments have been made. "I'm just glad the launch code for a nuclear attack was not something like Big Mac and fries." A spokesman for McDonald's said: "We understand there has been a problem with the frequency. It has been brought to our attention and we are grateful for that. We will not be using the system again until the problem has been rectified."

The new headsets were delivered only a couple of weeks ago and as soon as they went into operation the problems began. At first Army chiefs from the nearby garrison could not work out where the strange orders were coming from. It is understood the Dutch manufacturer of the headsets had made efforts to ensure they did not interfere with secret Dutch channels but did not take account of the fact that they were being shipped to Britain.

A spokeswoman for the Radiocommunications Agency said: "The restaurant was asked to stop using unlicensed equipment, which was operating on frequencies allocated for Government and amateur uses. "It has been causing interference to legitimate users and they have been asked to stop using them."

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