McDonalds and rainforest cartoon. (Date uncertain; may post-date the leaflet)

What’s Wrong With McDonald’s?

McDonald’s spend a fortune on advertisements, 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 ‘free’ 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.

While millions of people are starving, vast areas of land in poor countries are used for cattle ranching or to grow grain to feed animals to be eaten in the West.
    McDonald’s continually promote meat products, encouraging people to eat meat more often, which wastes more and more food resources. 145 million tons of grain fed to livestock produces only 21 million tons of meat and by-products. On a vegetarian diet Britain could easily be self-sufficient in food.

The world’s most beautiful forests 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 the regeneration of forests.
    Also, the use of farmland by multinationals and their suppliers forces local people to move on to other areas and cut down further trees.
    McDonald’s is the world’s largest user of beef. Methane emitted by cattle reared for the beef industry is a major cause of the ‘global warming’ crisis.
    Every year McDonald’s use thousands of tons of unnecessary packaging much of which ends up littering our streets or polluting the land buried in landfill sites.

McDonald’s promote their food as ‘healthy’, but the reality is that it is 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.

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 750 million animals massacred for food in Britain each year have no choice at all.

Workers in the burger chains 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 and 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. 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.

Criticism of McDonald’s has come from a huge number of people and organisations over a wide number of issues. In the mid-eighties London Greenpeace drew together many of those strands of criticism and called for an Annual World Day of Action against McDonald’s. This still takes place every year on 16th October, with pickets and demonstrations all over the world.
    McDonald’s, who spend over one billion dollars every year on advertising and promotions, are trying to silence the worldwide campaign 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 this year, Helen Steel and Dave Morris, two supporters of London Greenpeace will defend themselves in a major High Court libel trial. No legal aid is available so the unwaged environmentalists are representing themselves. McDonald’s have engaged in a huge cover up refusing to disclose masses of relevant documents. Also, the defendants have been denied their right to a jury, after McDonald’s argued that the issues in the case would be ‘too complex’ for members of the public to understand. Despite all the cards being stacked against them, Helen and Dave are determined to expose the truth about McDonald’s.
    Protests against the $24 billion a year fast food giant continue. Its vital to stand up to intimidation and to defend free speech.

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. Talk to friends and family, neighbours and workmates about these issues. Please copy and circulate this leaflet as widely as you can.

Greenpeace (London), 5 Caledonian Road, London N1 9DX.
Tel 0171 837 7557


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