McDonald's promises transparency about its food, if only customers will come back

McDonald's golden arches
CC BY 2.0 _skynet

The company has launched a few efforts to reclaim marketshare, from promoting regional specialties to answering questions about food production. Too bad the promotional videos aren't convincing, and fail to address the whole issue.

McDonald’s is getting really worried. The fast food giant recently posted earnings that showed a 3.3 percent drop in sales in established U.S. stores in the last quarter, and its net income plummeted by 29 percent. President and CEO Don Thompson stated, “We recognize that we must demonstrate to our customers and the entire McDonald’s system that we understand the problems we face and are taking decisive action to fundamentally change the way we approach our business.”

The company hopes that allowing franchises to serve more regional specialties will cater to local palates and hopefully create greater demand. McDonald’s serves chorizo burgers in Texas, Hawaii, and the Midwest, and mozzarella sticks in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut; now, according to Businessweek, they plan to expand into very specialized items such as taro pie in Hawaii.

In an even more drastic step, McDonald’s has launched a new campaign called “Our Food, Your Questions” in which they promise to answer whatever questions people may have about how their food is produced. A series of promotional video clips on YouTube features a young guy named Grant Imahara who goes around visiting McDonald’s locations, talking to a few higher-ups in the company, and checking out Cargill’s meat processing plant.

“We’re ready to tell you what you want to know about our food,” Rickette Collins, Director of Strategic Supply for McDonald’s, tells Imahara just before reassuring him that there is “zero pink slime” in any of our products.

As a skeptical viewer, I can’t help but wonder why their burgers look like this if there’s truly no slime, fillers, or extenders added. My homemade all-beef burgers certainly don't like pink Play-Doh cutouts.

McDonald's burger pattiesYouTube/Screen capture

While I appreciate the gesture of transparency that McDonald’s is showing by launching this campaign in the first place, it also demonstrates desperation to rebrand itself as a healthy, smart place to eat, but that is simply impossible as long as McDonald’s continues to do what it does best – churn out dirt-cheap food at a rapid pace.

There is so much more to food than just its list of ingredients. I’m not the only millennial who’s unimpressed by the way the fast food industry sources and produces its food, and that’s probably a big part of what’s contributing to the company’s plummeting sales. I ate my first and last big Mac at age 18, and you couldn’t pay me to feed those chicken nuggets to my kids. I don’t particularly care that the burger is 100% beef if those same cows were raised in a hellish CAFO and spent their lives standing in deep manure, contaminated with E. Coli and eating grains that they weren’t ever meant to eat.

The videos seem like a whole lot of propaganda. I’m certainly not convinced. As one YouTube commenter wrote:

“Just because you make a video with a guy explaining what allegedly goes on in their sh*t factories doesn’t make their product any less questionable.”

It also diverts attention away from the countless other nasty ingredients included in the bread, the sauces, the “pasteurized process American cheese,” even the pickle slices! (If you don’t believe me, check it out for yourself.)

Unfortunately McDonald’s will have to do a whole lot more than merely answer questions before I’ll eat there. It has to resolve all problems with the answers to those questions, which, sadly for them, is impossible. You get what you pay for when it comes to meat, and the company could never continue to charge the low prices it does if it actually got around to serving ‘sustainable’ beef (as it claims it will), nor could the world supply ‘sustainable’ beef on the scale that McDonald’s would require. Maybe if McDonald’s went all-vegetarian, then a full revamp might be feasible.

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