In the late 1980s, McDonald's took tremendous flak from vegetarians in the United States when it revealed taht the company was cooking its fries in beef tallow (lard). In 1990, it switched to vegetable oil. But the fries didn't taste as good as before, so the company quietly put a tiny amount of beef flavoring back into them. After reading about this in Eric Schlosser's book Fast Food Nation, Indians in the United States, who were of the Hindu and Jainist faiths, freaked out. Hindus revere cows as sacred and would never let beef touch their lips. Jains do not eat or wear in animal products. Here they'd been eating McDonalds fries all these years, thinking it was all right, and now they were pissed!This website is about holding Morgan Spurlock accountable for the factual distortions in his book, TV show, and public appearances. It isn't meant to be a defense of McDonalds, or any other food corporation. Like any corporation, McDonalds makes decisions based upon what it perceives to be in its interests. And like any corporation (or individual, for that matter), there will always be the temptation to cheat.
A Hindu in Seattle brought a class-action lawsuit against the company for having lied to its customers. McDonalds evetually settled for $12.5 million, most of which went to charities, and posted an apology on its website. (p. 72)
Frankly, I don't think McDonalds ever should have stopped adding beef tallow to its fries. They don't taste nearly as good without it. The company should have made it known that there was a trace of beef in the fries, but continued to cook them the manner that made them so popular. Vegetarians could eat elsewhere, or choose something else off them menu.
Nevertheless, the company capitulated. When it then willfully lied to the public, McDonalds committed a form of fraud. I think the settlement figure was actually a little low.
Here, Spurlock's right. McDonalds misled the public, and the company was rightly held accountable.