McDonald's Warns AGAIN - Don't Eat at McDonald's

The first time an official McDonald's ad, appearing in hundreds of thousands of magazines, warned parents about obesity: "there is no reason to eat excessive amounts of junk food, nor go more than once a week to McDonald's."
The Dangers of Eating at McDonald's
The Dangers of Eating at McDonald's
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WASHINGTON - Dec. 27, 2013 - PRLog -- WASHINGTON, D.C. (Dec. 27, 2013):  There it was, right on an employee website sponsored by McDonald's, a warning saying that a typical meal at the Golden Arches was an "unhealthy choice."          As a result, the site was quickly shut down.

         But the first time such a warning was issued it was even worse because the official warning came from the fast food giant itself, and appeared in hundreds of thousands of ads across the country, says John Banzhaf, the public interest lawyer who first broke the story and forced McDonald's to discipline its own top executives for the warning about the dangers eating McDonald's foods posed to young children.

        The warning was published in 2002, the country was France , and the ad - playing on concerns about children and obesity - bluntly warned: "there is no reason to eat excessive amounts of junk food, nor go more than once a week to McDonald's."  Needless to say, McDonald's corporate headquarters was outraged and quickly pulled the plug on the ad - so history has just repeated itself, says Banzhaf.

        Here's how the New York Times reported on the matter.

    It isn't often that a food company tells its customers that it should eat less of its food. But that is what McDonald's appears to have done in France.  In an "advertorial" about obesity in children that appeared in the magazine Femme Actuelle in May, McDonald's France said the number of visits to its outlets should be limited. Forbidding children from eating fast food would be counterproductive, it said. "However, there is no reason to eat excessive amounts of junk food, nor go more than once a week to McDonald's." . .

    John F. Banzhaf III, a professor of law at George Washington University who pioneered lawsuits against the tobacco industry and has now focused on the fast-food industry, said, "It one thing for a health advocate like me to call for something like this, but when someone in industry calls for what we are saying, that makes it sound very reasonable." . . .

   The advertorial in the French magazine "shows that health warnings about the dangers of eating out often at fast food restaurants are not only appropriate but may be necessary to avoid liability if children become obese as a result of overindulgence," Mr. Banzhaf said.

    The food industry says such suits are frivolous, and the National Restaurant Association and the Grocery Manufacturers of America have asked Congress for protection against them.  McDonald's also described as frivolous a lawsuit that Mr. Banzhaf's law students filed against the company for not disclosing that it used beef tallow in making its fries. But the company paid $12.5 million in March to settle the case, he said.. .

      Mr. Banzhaf said that the majority of people would probably say that fat people have no right to sue fast food companies. But he added "that that is exactly what they said when we said smokers could sue tobacco companies, and we have won the suits and we have been sustained on intermediate appeals."

    "When you win on the trial level and win on appellate level," he added, "they are no longer frivolous suits."  Mr. Banzhaf has organized a group of health experts and lawyers who worked on the tobacco cases to expand the lawsuits. "We want to combine the altruistic motives and profit motives of lawyers and use them against obesity," he said.

Professor of Public Interest Law
George Washington University Law School,
FAMRI Dr. William Cahan Distinguished Professor,
Fellow, World Technology Network,
Founder, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH)
2000 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20052, USA
(202) 994-7229 // (703) 527-8418 @profbanzhaf

GWU Law School
202 994-7229 / 703 527-8418
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