McDonald's on Red Alert for Publication of Critical Book

18 April 2006

Still reeling from Morgan Spurlock's movie assassination Super-Size Me, McDonald's Restaurants is reportedly entrenching to repel another onslaught - a sequel to Eric Schlosser's devastating 2001 best-seller Fast Food Nation.

Schlosser's new book, Chew On This, is due for simultaneous publication in the US and the UK next month. It targets children aged twelve and over and spells out the practices of slaughterhouses, meatpacking factories and "flavour laboratories" allegedly used by the burger behemoth.

It also accuses Big Mac of merchandising in schools, mass food production and "the appalling pay and lack of union support that young people suffer while working in fast food outlets". Worse yet, from McDonald's viewpoint, is that the book is to be followed up by a movie this fall.

Reports last week suggested that Big M had briefed fran-chisees on plans to counter the book and movie with so-called 'truth squads' deployed across both nations to refute criticism. But this is denied by McDonald's spokesman Walt Riker.

"We did our due diligence and we can't corroborate [that report]. We don't know who put it together. I haven't seen it and it's at odds with the way we are communicating our story," Riker insists.

But are there plans to use 'truth squads' or other similar rebuttal methods? Riker, like any good general was not about to disclose his defensive positions.

"We've made clear we are already doing more to communicate what we are all about, admitting that while we don't have all the answers, and that we know we're not perfect, we will continue to engage with experts to help guide us to help get it right for our customers. If there are opportunities to talk about McDonald's, or to correct misperceptions, we will do so."

Which in a less circumlocutory world would translate as "no comment".

Data sourced from Financial Times Online; additional content by WARC staff