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. Don't forget too that meat is the cause of the majority of food
poisoning incidents. 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
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.
ROBBING THE POOR
Vast areas of land in poor countries are used for cash crops or for cattle
ranching, or to grow grain to feed animals to be eaten in the West. This is
at the expense of local food needs. McDonald's continually promote meat
products, encouraging people to eat meat more often, which wastes more and
more food resources. 7 million tons of grain fed to livestock produces only
1 million tons of meat and by-products. On a plant-based diet and with land
shared fairly, almost every region could be self-sufficient in food.
DAMAGING THE ENVIRONMENT
Forests throughout the world - vital for all life - are being destroyed at
an appalling rate by multinational companies. McDonald's have at last been
forced to admit to using beef reared on ex-rainforest land, preventing its
regeneration. Also, the use of farmland by multinationals and their
suppliers forces local people to move on to other areas and cut down further
McDonald's are the world's largest user of beef. Methane emitted by cattle
reared for the beef industry is a major contributor to the 'global warming'
crisis. Modern intensive agriculture is based on the heavy use of chemicals
which are damaging to the environment.
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
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.
CENSORSHIP and McLIBEL
Criticism of McDonald's has come from a huge number of people and
organisations over a wide range of issues. In the mid-1980's, London
Greenpeace drew together many of those strands of criticism and called for
an annual World Day of Action against McDonald's. This takes place every
year on 16th October, with pickets and demonstrations all over the world.
McDonald's, who spend a fortune every year on advertising, are trying to
silence world-wide criticism by threatening legal action against those who
speak out. Many have been forced to back down because they lacked the money
to fight a case. But Helen Steel and Dave Morris, two supporters of London
Greenpeace, defended themselves in a major UK High Court libel trial. No
legal aid is available so they represented themselves. McDonald's engaged
in a huge cover up, refusing to disclose masses of relevant documents.
Also, the defendants were denied their right to a jury. Despite all the
cards being stacked against them, Helen and Dave turned the tables and
exposed the truth by putting McDonald's business practices on trial.
Protests against the $30 billion a year fast-food giant continue to grow.
It's vital to stand up to intimidation and to defend free speech.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Together we can fight back against the institutions and
the people in power who dominate our lives and our planet, and we can create
a better society without exploitation. Workers can and do organise together
to fight for their rights and dignity. People are increasingly aware of the
need to think seriously about the food we and our children eat. People in
poor countries are organising themselves to stand up to multinationals and
banks which dominate the world's economy. Environmental and animal rights
protests and campaigns are growing everywhere. Why not join in the struggle
for a better world. Talk to friends and family, neighbours and workmates
about these issues. Please copy and circulate this leaflet as widely as you
Please send me more information.
I enclose ______ pounds donation to the campaign.
Name: ________________________________ Address: ___________________________________
______________________________________________________ Phone: ____________________
Greenpeace (London), 5 Caledonian Road, London N1 9DX, UK.
Tel 0171 837 7557 or 0171 713 1269.
Information also available from :
McLibel Support Campaign (Australia), PO Box 558, South Brisbane 4101, Australia.
Independent Internet info at http://www.mcspotlight.org/