Here’s a question of ethics. Should a company sell a product they advise employees to avoid?
A McDonalds website providing resources to its employees advises against eating hamburgers, fries and sodas. CNBC first noticed the latest in a series of strange pieces of advice provided by the fast food company to its employees. “While convenient and economical for a busy lifestyle,” McDonalds says of its primary product, “fast foods are typically high in calories, fat, saturated fat, sugar, and salt and may put people at risk for becoming overweight.”
It goes on: “In general, people with high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease must be very careful about choosing fast food because of its high fat, salt, and sugar levels.” CNBC notes that the content here comes from a third party, A.D.A.M., Inc., credited at the bottom of the page. You can browse similar advice from the company on eating healthy here. A spokesperson for McDonalds told CNBC that the company would examine the content in question. Here’s another sample:
You’ll notice that the advice above isn’t a total condemnation of fast food offerings as a whole: it is “not impossible” to eat healthy foods at a fast food restaurant. But it is “more of a challenge.” McDonald’s, after all, sells salads. But the company is also so closely associated to its burger and fries staples that the generic “fast food” image in the advice graphic is shown wearing a distinctive McDonald’s red.
As strange as this seems, the bigger question seems to be how McDonald’s employees would be able to afford healthier food on the wages they earn slinging burgers. Earlier this year, a McDonald’s worker recorded an employee hotline counselor telling her to apply for food stamps. McDonald’s also advises employees to break their food up into smaller pieces to stave off hunger and stretch their food budgets. The company has some holiday advice, too: workers should return their Christmas presents for a refund to boost their budgets. And then there’s the company’s budget advice to its minimum wage workers: get a second job to cover living expenses. That budget, by the way, didn’t include money for heat, gas, or food.
The article, originally posted on the Wire, is here.
McDonald’s can certainly do some things to ameliorate the unhealthiness of the food they sell.
1. Cut the salt. They can cook with less salt. Give us salt packets—other spices would be nice too. Let us decide how much salt we want to add.
2. Alternative drinks. They sell bottled water. Fine. How about adding premium water to the fountain? Low sugar juices?
3. McDonalds has the power to demand the soft drink syrup mixes be made with sugar rather than the proven unhealthy high fructose corn syrup.
Feed us better food. Pay your people a better wage.
Yes, I understand the pressure imposed by Wall Street greed. No amount of profit is ever enough. When companies make ethical changes, we consumers need to support them.
Chris Reich, TeachU