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• The case happens in London which has been described for a number of years as the “Libel Capital of the World” • Libel is defined as defamation in form of written, broadcast, or otherwise published word. It is the communication of a statement that makes a claim, expressly stated or implied to be factual, that may give an individual, business, product, group, government, or nation a negative image (Source: Wiki) • English law allows actions for libel to be brought in the High Court for any published statements which are alleged to defame a named or identifiable individual (or individuals) in a manner which causes them loss in their trade or profession, or causes a reasonable person to think worse of him, her or them. • This was in this context that McDonald’s brought two Greenpeace activists to court in response to their allegations defaming the corporation.
McDonald’s Vision Statement
• We aspire to end hunger one meal at a time by providing low cost- high quality nutritional food globally. • Corporate Responsibility Statement: • “It all comes down to the food. That’s what McDonald’s is all about. The food we serve…how and where we serve it…the welfare of our employees and our suppliers’ employees…where the food comes from…and so much more. Running restaurants is a multi-faceted endeavor, but ultimately, it all comes back to the food” • Values in Action • From the start, we've been committed to doing the right thing. And we've got the policies, programs and practices in place that allow us to use our size and scope to help make a difference. Because what's good for us, is good for us all.
• Obesity is a pervasive problem in America, and as people increasingly become overweight, their health suffers
• 64% of all Americans overweight and 30% are obese; the percentage of children age 6 to 19 that are overweight has doubled in the last two decades
• Health risks: heart disease, Type II diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure • The nutritional content of fast food--high in fat, sugar, and calories--is linked to weight gain and consequent health problems. McDonald’s bears the brunt of criticism because: • McDonald’s is a powerful multinational corporation and the fast food industry leader
• McD’s has more than 31,000 restaurants in 119 countries • McD’s feeds more than 46 million customers per day • McD’s employs more than 1.5 million people
• Steel and Morris were two of the five protestors who refused to apologize and went to trial. • They had no legal representation, virtually no expense funds, and they were denied their request for a jury trial. • Still, the relatively inexperienced defendants managed to put up a substantial legal argument against McDonald’s. • Hence, the caption of the documentary states “Two people who wouldn’t say sorry”. Disputed Points Claims of promoting unhealthy food Dubious advertising to mislead the younger generation Animal cruelty Bad working conditions etc. Complicity in rainforest destruction
The McLibel Verdict • The judge in the case found the McLibel Two had proved some of their allegations, and failed to prove others. Proved Child exploitation via company advertising Falsely advertising McDonald’s food as “nutritious” McDonald’s food represents a health risk to long-term customers Cruelty to animals McDonald’s is “strongly antipathetic” to unions and pay low wages Not Proved Complicity in rainforest destruction McDonald’s food causes cancer and heart disease Implicated in starvation in the developing world Bad working conditions
Ethics in Business
• Defining Ethics • A company’s relationship with its stakeholders defines its ethical values • Stakeholders can be:
Employees Shareholders Consumers Suppliers & Competitors Civil Society: Pressure Groups, NGO’s, Local Communities Government & Regulation Environment
• “We operate our business ethically. This value is at the heart of all of our corporate responsibility efforts” – McDonald’s
McDonald’s Five Focus Areas
ENVIRONMENTAL RESPONSIBILITY • Increase adoption of energy efficient equipment and technology in the restaurants • Improve tracking of restaurant energy consumption data • Increase energy awareness and education across our business to continue to realize savings to the bottom line and beneﬁts to the environment EMPLOYEE EXPERIENCE • Energize our restaurant crew and managers and differentiate • Global Employee Value Proposition • Enhancing employee commitment and the customer experience COMMUNITY • Leverage local and global resources to have greater impact on children, families and communities • Increase Financial and volunteer support to Ronald McDonald House Charities through communication outreach • Increase participation in the corporate volunteer program
NUTRITION AND WELL-BEING • Accelerate and expand food and beverage choices containing fruit and vegetables across our menu • Increase awareness of fruit, vegetable and dairy options for children available on our menu SUSTAINABLE SUPPLY CHAIN • Set goals and make tangible progress for priority products as identiﬁed in our Sustainable Land Management Commitment • Reduce environmental impacts of direct suppliers by continuing to utilize our Supplier Environmental Scorecard as a continuous improvement tool
“Ethics – Is it just an eyewash”
• McDonald’s spend over $1.8 billion every year worldwide on advertising and promotions, trying to cultivate an image of being a ‘caring’ and ‘green’ company that is also a fun place to eat. • Children are lured in (dragging their parents behind them) with the promise of toys and other gimmicks. • But behind the smiling face of Ronald McDonald lies the reality McDonald’s only interest is money, making profits from whoever and whatever they can, just like all multinational companies.
• McDonald’s Annual Reports talk of ‘Global Domination’ - they aim to open more and more stores across the globe -but their continual worldwide expansion means more uniformity, less choice and the undermining of local communities.
PROMOTING UNHEALTHY FOOD ???
• McDonald’s promote their food as ‘nutritious’, but the reality is that it is junk food - high in fat, sugar and salt, and low in fibre and vitamins. • A diet of this type is linked with a greater risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other diseases. • Their food also contains many chemical additives, some of which may cause ill health, and hyperactivity in children. • In 1991 McDonald’s were responsible for an outbreak of food poisoning in the UK, in which people suffered serious kidney failure. • With modern intensive farming methods, other diseases - linked to chemical residues or unnatural practices - have become a danger to people too (such as BSE).
EXPLOITING WORKERS ???
• Workers in the fast food industry are paid low wages. • McDonald’s do not pay overtime rates even when employees work very long hours. • Pressure to keep profits high and wage costs low results in • understaffing, so staff have to work harder and faster. • As a consequence, accidents (particularly burns) are common. The majority of employees are people who have few job options and so are forced to accept this exploitation, and they’re compelled to ‘smile’ too! • Not surprisingly staff turnover at McDonald’s is high, making it virtually impossible to unionise and fight for a better deal, which suits McDonald’s who have always been • opposed to Unions
EXPLOITING WORKERS ???
• Bad business ethics example - "McDonald's Legislation” • “In 1972, Ray Kroc, the company’s founder made a rare donation of $250,000 to Nixon's re-election campaign and in return got a favourable legislation that allowed companies such as McDonald's to pay teenage employees 20 percent less than federal minimum wages” • Most observers consider this a typical case of corporate influence on lawmakers to enact legislation that serve their selfish ends and harm society. • Unionization - McDonald’s also doesn't allow employees to unionize, and in one instance where workers at St. Hubert Quebec did form a union, the company closed down the unit promptly.
Environmental Destruction/ Murdering Animals???
ENVIRONMENTAL DESTRUCTION ??? • Desertification • McDonald’s forced to admit to using beef reared on ex-rainforest land preventing its regeneration.
• Shifting agriculture
• McDonald’s are the world’s largest user of beef – Enteric Fermentation – Global warming • Every year McDonald’s use thousands of tons of unnecessary packaging, most of which ends up littering our streets or polluting the land buried in landfill sites. MURDERING ANIMALS??? • The menus of the burger chains are based on the torture and murder of millions of animals. • Most are intensively farmed, with no access to fresh air and sunshine, and no freedom of movement. • Their deaths are barbaric - ‘humane slaughter’ is a myth. We have the choice to eat meat or not, but the billions of • animals massacred for food each year have no choice at all.
• A group of obese teenagers who ate at McDonald’s 3-5 times per week sued McDonald’s for causing their weight problems. They alleged that: • McDonald’s advertising and promotional representations create a false impression that its food products are part of a healthy lifestyle • McDonald’s said it would have nutritional information available to customers but it wasn’t • The court ruled in favor of McDonald’s but the resulting press coverage put the issue
once again in the forefront. This case was what gave Spurlock the idea for Super Size
Me. • 2002 first time McDonald’s posted a quarter loss in its history.
Story of a very healthy, middle-aged man named Morgan Spurlock Decided to find out how bad fast food actually is for the body. The hypothesis was that America is so obese is because of the amount of fast food that they consume.
He would eat at McDonald's three times a day for an entire month. He had to order supersized meals when asked and not on his own He had to eat everything on the menu at least once(which he actually did in 9 days). He also could not walk more than the average American exercises each day. He asked many people what they thought of McDonald's and how often they ate there.
Effects of the Experiment
At first, the new diet did not make a huge difference to Spurlock. But after about a week he started to feel a change in his physical and mental health. He felt tired, irritable, and depressed, with quick mood swings. He acquired stomachaches, and physical activities wore him out quickly. When he visited his doctors, he learned that he was gaining about a pound a day, and his cholesterol and blood pressure were rising. By the end of the month, he had gained 24.5 pounds, thirteen percent of his original body mass. It took Spurlock 5 months to lose 20 pounds (9 kg) & another 9.5 months to lose the last 4.5 pounds His doctors warned that he had done irreversible damage to his liver and heart.
Fast food is dangerous, unhealthy, and likely the reason why America is so obese. This documentary also showed the relationship between advertisements and people's reactions to them. At the beginning, McDonald's advertising techniques were discussed Another issue is the way McDonald's targets young children with ads Studies done on this subject make it clear that these ads increase a person's desire for an item by making it seem fun. Seeing an advertisement for McDonald's on television will make a person more likely to choose to eat there Many Americans watch television at such an early age. They are greatly influenced by the fast food messages they receive there. Is it ethical for McDonalds to sell & advertise for unhealthy fast food?
The reasons for America being such an obese nation is fast foods Not only are most people fairly sedentary, but America's serving sizes are very large compared to those in other countries. The movie ends with a rhetorical question, "Who do you want to see go first, you or them?" with a cartoon tombstone for Ronald McDonald ("1954-2012") as a backdrop.
McDonald's discontinued the Super Size option six weeks after the movie's premiere, as well as its recent emphasis on healthier menu items such as salads, and the release of the new adult happy meal. It is claimed by McDonald's that these changes had nothing to do with the film.
• The main question facing McDonald’s is whether they can continue their world dominance in the fast food industry by promoting active, healthy lifestyles when their mainstay products continue to be linked to obesity and related health problems. • McDonald’s has done a laudable job in marketing the concept of consumer choice and in establishing a generous corporate social responsibility program. • However, in the U.S. at least, McDonald’s has not reduced advertising to children, reformulated its trans fat cooking oil, or lowered fat, salt, and/or calorie counts on its core products. Rather than diminishing, the issue of health and nutrition continues to escalate and McDonald’s remains a key target.