McDonald’s Campaign Seeks to Improve Reputation

food safetyAs a restaurant chain existing since 1940 and serving 86 million customers every day, McDonald’s certainly has a reputation—both good and bad. In recent years, this reputation has begun to dwindle with the release of documentaries like “Supersize Me” posing serious questions about the health effects of the restaurant’s food. As our attitude (and education about) food evolves, McDonald’s must try even harder to win over customers who are far more likely to exchange burgers and fries for green beans and quinoa. Last year, the company saw a 1.5% dip in sales, following a 0.2% dip from the year before. In an effort to quell concern over the quality of its food, McDonald’s U.S. has rolled out their “Your Questions, Our Food” marketing campaign.

“Your Questions, Our Food”

Questions have arisen over the years around myths, rumours and supposed “insider” info about substances like “pink slime” and other unappetizing fillers in McDonald’s foods. In their efforts to reassure customers that their recipes follow food quality training guidelines, McDonald’s has agreed to provide some solid answers to these persistent rumblings. Questions like “Are there fillers or preservatives in your beef” were answered with a firm no – meanwhile questions like “are there anti-foaming agents in your nuggets” were answered with a yes. It seems like McDonald’s wants to prove it has nothing to hide and is answering questions truthfully, providing explanations for its use of any unusual substances. In case you’re concerned, the anti-foaming agent is used to prevent oil splattering when the nuggets are cooked, and is in fact FDA approved.

McDonald’s Lawsuits

You don’t get to be the world’s number one burger restaurant without ruffling a few feathers. In the case of McDonald’s, several headlining lawsuits have blemished the restaurant’s reputation. Most recent was a lawsuit over McDonald`s failure to advertise that their fries are made with beef flavouring. Many vegetarian groups, mainly Hindu and Buddhist, sued McDonald’s for falsely claiming their fries were vegetarian, which lead to the restaurant paying out $100 million in damages.

Transparency in Fast Food

In the same way that pharmaceutical quality control regulates the contents of drugs, we should understand and regulate the foods we are putting into our bodies. We wouldn’t ingest pharmaceuticals that we know have unhealthy ingredients, so then why do we so readily eat foods with questionable processing? Many sodas contain caramel colouring, often derived from ammonias which are linked to cancer. MSG is also a source of concern for many individuals, as reactions to this chemical can include headaches, rapid heartbeat, sweating and nausea. While critics place blame on restaurants for adding chemical ingredients to their foods, consumers should remember that it’s their responsibility to demand transparency with regard to how food is prepared.

Check out McDonald’s video promotion for the Your Questions, Our Food campaign, where we see exactly how beef patties are made. This video also shows food safety training in action, with an employee conducting standardized evaluations of the final burger product.

Do you think videos like these truly contribute to transparency in fast food production?