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05/06/02 . by unknown . Ananova . U.S.  
McDonald's to pay 6.85m to Hindu and vegetarian groups  
McDonald's is to pay 6.85 million to Hindu and vegetarian groups following claims that it mislabelled french fries and hash browns as vegetarian.  

The company faced lawsuits after it was revealed that the vegetable oil used to prepare the fries and hash browns contained essence of beef for flavouring purposes.

McDonald's has posted an apology on its website over the flavourings used in its vegetable oil.

It states: "We regret we did not provide these customers with complete information, and we sincerely apologise for any hardship that these miscommunications have caused among Hindus, vegetarians and others.

"We should have done a better job in these areas, and we're committed to doing a better job in the future."

McDonald's says it has created a Dietary Practice/Vegetarian Advisory Panel, consisting of experts in consumer dietary practices, that will advise the company on dietary restrictions and guidelines.

The company was first sued over the fries in Seattle last year by three vegetarians, including two Hindus, who don't eat meat for religious reasons.

Lawsuits were subsequently filed in Illinois, California, New Jersey and Texas.

The lawsuits were filed on behalf of any vegetarian who ate McDonald's fries after 1990, the year the company announced its restaurants would no longer use beef fat to cook fries and that only pure vegetable oil would be used.

McDonald's responded to the lawsuits by saying it never claimed the fries it sold in the US were vegetarian, but apologised for any confusion surrounding the use of beef flavouring in the production of fries.  
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