Tag Archives: McDonald’s

Consumer groups petition fast-food chains to reduce antibiotic use

Consumer health and food safety groups this week called on 16 fast-food restaurants to stop the unnecessary use of antibiotics in their meat and poultry supply.

Medical experts say the overuse of antibiotics in livestock poses a public health threat by increasing the spread of deadly drug-resistant bacteria.

The 16 restaurants petitioned by the organizations received “F” grades for failing to take steps to end the misuse of medical important antibiotics in the Chain Reaction scorecard, a report published by the Center for Food Safety, Consumers Union, Friends of the Earth, NRDC and Food Animals Concerns Trust.

A statement from the coalition this week says Burger King received an F and, despite an announcement in December to make certain changes regarding antibiotics in the chicken supply chain, still lags far behind McDonald’s.

McDonald’s has removed medically important antibiotics from its chicken supply chain, but Burger King has committed to removing only limited group of antibiotics classified as “critically important” to human medicine, by the end of 2017.

“The global increase in antibiotic-resistant infections is a public health disaster, and it is essential that our biggest restaurant chains do their part to address this growing problem right away,” said Cameron Harsh of the Center for Food Safety.

The petition effort is the latest in a series of campaigns intended to pressure such companies as KFC, Olive Garden, Chili’s and Starbucks to help protect public health and animal welfare by committing to meat and poultry raised without routine antibiotics.

The performance of these companies contrasts sharply with nine of the largest chains — including McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Chipotle and Panera, which received passing grades in the report.

“KFC and the other restaurants that received failing grades are making our antibiotics crisis worse,” said Jean Halloran, director of food policy initiatives at Consumers Union, the policy division of Consumer Reports. “Antibiotics should only be used to treat disease, not wasted on healthy animals or to compensate for filthy conditions on factory farms. It’s time for restaurants to help protect public health by demanding that their suppliers end the irresponsible use of these important medications.”

“When consumers eat a chicken sandwich they shouldn’t have to worry that doing so is potentially undermining antibiotics. They should just enjoy the sandwich,” said Matthew Wellington, field director of the antibiotics program for U.S. PIRG. “More major chains like KFC need to act on antibiotics. We simply cannot afford to lose the foundations of modern medicine.”

Consumer advocacy and food safety groups say that in the absence of mandatory government regulations on agricultural uses of antibiotics in the United States, restaurants should demonstrate their commitment to public health by ending the misuse of antibiotics in their meat and poultry supply chains.

Some background on the issue…

Most meat served by U.S. chain restaurants comes from animals raised in factory farms. The animals often are fed antibiotics to prevent diseases that occur in crowded, unsanitary living conditions and also to promote faster growth.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, regularly dosing animals with antibiotics contributes to rising cases of infections in humans that are resistant to important medicines.

The spread of resistant pathogens means that infections are harder to treat, require longer hospitalizations, and pose greater risk of death. World Health Organization reports that “antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health, food security and development today.”

Petition puts down profiting off child players of Pokemon Go

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood wants Niantic, Inc., producers of Pokemon GO, to protect children who play the popular new game from commercial exploitation.

CCFC, in a petition online, urged Niantic to not lure children under 13 to visit sponsored “PokeStops” and “Pokemon Gyms,” or deliver to them any targeted advertisements based on their location.

Pokemon GO is a location-based augmented reality game that requires players to visit specific real world places — called “PokeStops” and “Pokemon Gyms” — in order to capture, battle and train virtual creatures.

Niantic says Pokemon GO encourages players to “Get Up, Get Out, and Explore.”

But Niantic is selecting some PokeStops and Gyms based on paid sponsorships, using the game’s appeal to entice customers to brick and mortar establishments, and McDonald’s is one of the first sponsors.

In Japan, every McDonald’s is a Pokemon GO hot spot.

Once children playing the game arrive at the restaurant, they’re enticed to buy Happy Meals with Pokemon GO toys, the petitioners protested.

“No child should be lured to McDonald’s or any other sponsor’s establishment while playing Pokemon GO,” Josh Golin, executive director of CCFC, said in a news release. “If Niantic wants to cash in on the game’s enormous popularity by herding players to its sponsors’ locations, it should exclude children from this type of marketing.”

Angela J. Campbell, a Georgetown law professor and CCFC board member, stated in the release, “It is the height of hypocrisy for Niantic to tout Pokemon GO as a means to get children outside, then use the game to sell Happy Meals.”

Pokemon GO collects a wealth of data about its players, including their geolocation, as they play the game.

So CCFC also urged Niantic to refrain from delivering personalized ads to children based on the data.

Because all players are required to provide their birthdate at sign-up, Niantic can identify and protect players under 13, the advocacy group said.

In addition to advertising concerns, advocates and experts have noted that Pokemon GO presents a host of threats to users’ safety and privacy, particularly for younger players.

“This is a watershed moment not only for Pokemon GO, but for the burgeoning augmented reality industry,” Golin said. “Will Niantic take the precautions necessary to make Pokemon GO a safe environment for children? Or will AR just be another gimmick to make kids ‘Get up, get out, and go to McDonald’s?”

General Mills will convert to all cage-free eggs by 2025

General Mills has set a deadline for its conversion to all cage-free eggs by 2025.

The Minnesota-based company, whose brands include Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Progresso soups and Yoplait yogurt, initially announced its plans to go cage-free in July.

But it updated its animal welfare policy to establish the 10-year time frame.

Josh Balk, a spokesman for the Humane Society of the United States, it’s a further sign that major food manufacturers recognize consumers are turning against the idea of confining food animals to cages.

McDonald’s, which buys two billion eggs a year, set a goal in September to buy all cage-free eggs in 10 years. Other companies going cage-free include Burger King and Starbucks.

Teachers not loving McDonald’s McTeacher’s Nights

The National Education Association and more than 50 state and local teachers unions are calling on McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook to end McTeacher’s Nights.

The unions and educators are concerned about McDonald’s kid-targeted marketing.

On McTeacher’s Nights, McDonald’s recruits teachers to work behind the counter and serve burgers, fries and soda to their students and their students’ families.

The corporation heavily brands the events, even going so far as to provide uniforms and branded shirts for teachers to wear behind counters. In return, McDonald’s donates a small portion of the night’s proceeds.

The unions say the events take advantage of cash-strapped schools and use teachers to sell junk food directly to their students in order to create brand loyalty.

Meat from most fast-food chains from animals raised on antibiotics

Consumer, health, and environmental advocates graded the country’s 25 largest fast food and fast casual chains on their meat and poultry antibiotics policies, giving all but five “F”s for allowing routine antibiotic use by their meat suppliers.

The five chains earning passing grades are Panera Bread, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Chick-fil-A, McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts.

The report Chain Reaction: How Top Restaurants Rate on Reducing Use of Antibiotics in Their Meat Supply was accompanied by a letter from 109 organizations to the CEOs of the top 25 restaurant chains urging companies to eliminate the routine use of antibiotics in their meat supply. In addition, there are several high profile campaigns urging Subway, the world’s largest restaurant chain, to adopt a clear policy restricting the routine use of antibiotics in its supply chain.

“Overusing antibiotics in meat production helps to create drug-resistant superbugs—our nation’s largest chain restaurants can be part of the problem, or part of the solution,” said Dr. David Wallinga, a senior health officer with the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Restaurants billing themselves as a ‘healthier’ option, like Subway, have a particular responsibility to live up to that image by reducing antibiotics. Consumer demand for meat raised without routine antibiotics is transforming the marketplace; the companies continuing with business-as-usual will be left behind.”

“From bacon cheeseburgers to chicken nuggets, most meat served by America’s chain restaurants comes from animals raised in industrial-scale facilities, where they are routinely fed antibiotics to prevent disease that is easily spread in crowded, unsanitary, stressful conditions,” said Kari Hamerschlag, senior program manager at the environmental group Friends of the Earth. “It’s time for the U.S. restaurant industry to take leadership and address the growing crisis of antibiotic resistance by working with their meat and poultry suppliers to eliminate the routine use of antibiotics and improve overall conditions in U.S. meat production.”

Research for the Chain Reaction report was compiled by a broad array of groups, including Friends of the Earth, Natural Resources Defense Council, Consumers Union, Food Animal Concerns Trust, Keep Antibiotics Working, and Center for Food Safety.

The report builds on rising concern that overuse of antibiotics in meat production contributes to the rise in antibiotic-resistant infections that claim at least 23,000 lives each year.

With Americans spending nearly half of their food budget on meals outside the home, this research provides consumers with important information to help them make better dining out choices. Sales of meat raised without antibiotics grew 25 percent from 2009 – 2012.

The following chains received an “F” on today’s scorecard, either for having no disclosed policy on antibiotic use in their meat and poultry supply chains, or for having policies that fail to phase out continued, routine use of medically important antibiotics in the production of the meats they purchase and serve:

Applebee’s

Arby’s

Burger King

Chili’s

Dairy Queen

Denny’s

Domino’s

IHOP

Jack in the Box

KFC

Little Caesars

Olive Garden

Outback Steakhouse Grill and Bar

Papa John’s Pizza

Pizza Hut

Sonic

Starbucks

Subway

Taco Bel

Wendy’s

In addition to these findings on antibiotic policies, the report found that only two of the surveyed companies, Panera and Chipotle, report policies that restrict the use of other growth-promoting drugs, including hormones and beta agonists.

In response to a number of public campaigns, Subway, in late August updated its website to indicate that it “support(s) the elimination of sub-therapeutic use of antibiotics” and media outlets reported that Subway plans to “transition to chicken raised without antibiotics important to human medicine in 2016″ and “eliminate the use of antibiotics in products across the menu.”

Subway, however, has yet to back those statements up by making a firm commitment to take this action or present a clear plan or timeline for doing so.

Abuse video leads McDonald’s and Tyson to cut ties with chicken farmer

McDonald’s and its supplier Tyson Foods say they’ve cut ties with a chicken farmer after an an animal welfare group released a video taken with a hidden camera showing abusive practices at the farm.

The video was released by Mercy for Animals, an animal rights group that says it has released more than 40 similar videos in the past.

The footage shows people scooping chickens into a bucket by whacking them with a pole with a spike on the end and standing on birds’ heads to break their necks.

Tyson Foods Inc. said in a statement that it was investigating the situation, but that it terminated the farmer’s contract “based on what we currently know.” McDonald’s Corp. said in a statement that it supported Tyson’s decision to terminate its contract with the farmer in question.

“We’re working with Tyson Foods to further investigate this situation and reinforce our expectations around animal health and welfare at the farm level,” McDonald’s said in a statement.

The farm in Tennessee identified by Mercy for Animals could not immediately be reached.

The farm supplied chicken for McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets, according to Mercy for Animals. McDonald’s said the farm may have also supplied chicken for menu items including grilled and deep-fried chicken filets and its McChicken sandwich.

Tyson said in its statement that the video doesn’t reflect the treatment of chickens by the thousands of farmers that supply it. But Matt Rice, director of investigations for Mercy for Animals, said the group’s investigators walk away with images that “shock and horrify” every time they go on site at a farm.

“Unfortunately this type animal abuse runs rampant in the animal agriculture industry,” Rice said.

Mercy for Animals is asking McDonald’s to adopt a number of animal welfare policies, such as giving chickens more space, ending breeding practices designed to make chickens grow so quickly that they develop health problems, and the installation of video monitoring on farms.

Rice said Mercy for Animals has requested meetings with Tyson, but said the company has declined its requests. A representative for Tyson, Gary Mickelson, said Tyson has previously offered to meet with the group.

On the Web …

http://www.mercyforanimals.org

http://www.mcdonaldscruelty.com 

Beaver Dam says no to kangaroo as service animal

Officials have changed a southeastern Wisconsin city’s rules on service animals after a woman took a baby kangaroo into a McDonald’s restaurant.

The Beaver Dam Daily Citizen reports the city’s Common Council voted 14-0 earlier this week to define a service animal as a dog or miniature horse, but not a kangaroo. Police can cite people who try to use other animals.

Beaver Dam police say the woman wrapped the baby kangaroo in a blanket and tucked it in an infant car seat, then took it inside a McDonald’s in February. The woman has said the kangaroo is a therapy animal to help her cope with emotional distress.

City Attorney Maryann Schacht says the changes comply with the U.S. Americans with Disabilities Act.

Workers take fight for $15 to McD’s shareholders

After years of lying low, the Hamburglar crept back into McDonald’s ads this spring. That’s fitting for a company that reaps massive profits and pays minimal wages, say the workers taking their fight for $15 to McDonald’s shareholders.

Shareholders planned to meet on May 21 outside Chicago in Oak Brook, Illinois, where McDonald’s employees planned a massive demonstration to present investors with a petition demanding a $15 hourly wage and the right to form unions without retaliation.

The petition, signed by more than 900,000 people, states, “No one can feed a family on the poverty wages you pay. For more than two years, fast-food cooks and cashiers have called for fair pay, and I stand with them. McDonald’s workers deserve $15 an hour and union rights. It’s time to pay your people enough to survive.”

“All of us are fighting for a reason,” said Adriana Alvarez, who works for the fast-food company in Chicago. “Me, I’m out here fighting for $15 for my son Manny. He’s 3 years old and, as a single mom, I struggle every month to pay for child care and keep him fed on fast-food pay. I make $250 a week. No one can live on that. My son deserves better. All of our kids deserve a world where hard work means a decent living. Where we don’t have to worry about hitting the rent check each month and keeping food on the table.”

For the past three years, McDonald’s workers and their supporters have fired up protests at shareholders’ meetings. Last spring, police arrested 101 demonstrators from among the 2,000 who protested outside the company headquarters.

The labor campaign continues as the company, under new CEO Steve Easterbrook, works to overhaul McDonald’s image and menu in order to halt declining sales.

In April, the company announced plans to boost pay for about 90,000 employees in its company-owned stores. The announcement made headlines, but the policy change only impacts employees at 10 percent of U.S. locations, or maybe fewer. McDonald’s in May debuted a turnaround plan that involves selling company-owned stores as franchises — about 32,000 restaurants around the world.

”My overall vision is for McDonald’s to be seen as a modern, progressive burger company, delivering a contemporary customer experience,” Easterbrook said in a conference call with investors earlier this spring. “’Modern’ is about getting the brand to where we need to be today, and ‘progressive’ is about doing what it takes to be the McDonald’s our customers will expect tomorrow.”

Labor activist Melissa Sharpe, of Racine, said she uses “progressive” differently.

“We are seeing businesses positioning themselves as progressive and meaning employing liberal ideas in how they conduct business, how they compensate workers and safeguard the environment,” she said. “I haven’t heard that this is what McDonald’s means by ‘progressive.’ But I hope shareholders push on this. McDonald’s isn’t losing business because it doesn’t serve breakfast all day. McDonald’s is losing business because it is about profits before people.”

Sharpe and other activists, including workers from Wisconsin, say the time to rally in the fight for a $15 minimum wage is now, as 2016 political campaigns ramp up and with presidential candidates in both parties talking about income inequality. U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders has said wealth inequality “is now reaching obscene levels” and Hillary Rodham Clinton recently commented, “The deck is still stacked in favor of those already at the top. And there’s something wrong with that. There’s something wrong when CEOs make 300 times more than the typical worker.”

On May 14, the AFL-CIO released its annual “Executive Paywatch” report, revealing that Wisconsin S&P 500 CEOs made an average of $4.7 million in 2014, 116 times more than the average worker. Nationally in 2014, the average worker earned about $36,000 per year while CEO pay averaged $13.5 million per year. 

“The massive pay gap between workers and CEOs shows what happens when the deck is stacked against working families,” said Wisconsin AFL-CIO president Phil Neuenfeldt.

Former McDonald’s CEO Donald Thompson made the “Paywatch” report, receiving $7,288,578 in compensation in 2014. However, he was nowhere near the top of the rankings. He wasn’t even in the top 100 on a list that began with David M. Zaslav receiving $156 million in compensation from Discovery Communications and ended with Leonard Bell receiving $20.5 million from Alexion Pharmaceuticals.

“Income inequality is at a crisis point in America. Corporate profits and CEO pay continue to rise as workers’ rights are eroded and wages are stagnating,” said Stephanie Bloomingdale, Wisconsin AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer.

Low-wage earners demonstrate in ‘Fight for $15’

The Fight for $15 campaign to win higher pay and a union for fast-food workers is expanding to represent a variety of low-wage workers and become more of a social justice movement.

In New York City on April 15, more than 100 chanting protesters gathered outside a McDonald’s around noon, prompting the store to lock its doors to prevent the crowd from streaming in.

Demonstrators laid on the sidewalk outside to stage a “die-in,” which became popular during the “Black Lives Matter” protests after recent police shootings of black men. Several wore sweatshirts that said “I Can’t Breathe,” a nod to the last words of a black man in New York City who died after he was put in a police chokehold.

Timothy Roach, a 21-year-old Wendy’s worker from Milwaukee, said the police brutality black men face is linked to the lack of economic opportunity they’re given. He said the protests were necessary to send a message to companies.

“If they don’t see that it matters to us, then it won’t matter to them,” Roach said.

Organizers said demonstrations were planned for more than 230 U.S. cities and college campuses, as well as dozens of cities overseas. Among those who joined the latest day of protests were airport workers, Walmart workers and adjunct professors.

The campaign began in late 2012 and is being spearheaded by the Service Employees International Union, which represents low-wage workers in areas like home care, child care and building cleaning services. Mary Kay Henry, the SEIU’s president, said the push has already helped prompt local governments to consider higher minimum wages, nudged companies to announce pay hikes and made it easier for SEIU members to win better contracts. Those results are inspiring other groups of workers, she said.

“It has defied a sense of hopelessness,” she said.

In Jackson, Mississippi, around 30 people protested in a McDonald’s before being kicked out, with one of the demonstrators being arrested for trespassing. Protesters also gathered outside McDonald’s restaurants in cities including Denver, Los Angeles and Albany, New York.

Even if fast-food workers and others never become union members, winning higher pay for them would benefit the SEIU by helping lift pay for its members, said Susan Schurman, dean of Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations.

“By raising the wage floor, it really benefits everyone,” she said.

Ann Hodges, a professor of labor employment law at the University of Richmond, said engaging different types of workers also broadens the appeal of the movement by increasing the chances people know someone who’s affected.

And the push to make Fight for $15 more of a social justice movement makes those who might have negative perceptions about unions more likely to join, she said.

“It becomes easier to organize workers if they view it as something positive and socially desirable,” Hodges said.

In the meantime, McDonald’s said this month it would raise its starting salary to $1 above the local minimum wage, and give workers the ability to accrue paid time off. It marked the company’s first national pay policy, and indicates McDonald’s wants to take control of its image as an employer. But the move only applies to workers at company-owned stores, which account for about 10 percent of more than 14,300 locations.

McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s say they don’t control the employment decisions at franchised restaurants. The SEIU is working to upend that position and hold McDonald’s responsible for labor conditions at franchised restaurants in multiple ways, including lawsuits.

In a statement, McDonald’s said it respects the right to “peacefully protest.” In the past, it said only about 10 to 15 McDonald’s workers out of about 800,000 in the U.S. have participated.

In a recent column in The Chicago Tribune, McDonald’s Corp. CEO Steve Easterbrook described the company’s pay hike and other perks as “an initial step,” and said he wants to transform McDonald’s into a “modern, progressive burger company.”

But that transformation will have to take place as labor organizers continue pressuring employers over wages. Ahead of the protests this week, a study funded by the SEIU found working families rely on $153 billion in public assistance a year as a result of their low wages.

Woman takes her kangaroo to a Beaver Dam McDonald’s

A woman agreed to leave a McDonald’s restaurant in Beaver Dam after a customer complained about the baby kangaroo she carried into the fast-food restaurant in an infant car seat.

Diana Moyer said she takes her eight-month-old kangaroo everywhere, including the movies and church. Moyer said the kangaroo is a therapy animal for which she has a doctor’s approval.

Still, police asked Moyer to remove Jimmy, the kangaroo, from the restaurant.

Moyer lives on a farm near Columbus and has a collection of animals, including four additional kangaroos, sheep, goats, emu, deer, horses and chickens.

Moyer said her farm is licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and it has been inspected.