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Mcdonald's Trans Fat Lawsuit

In: Business and Management

Submitted By nelso135
Words 411
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McDonald’s

In 2003, the non-profit organization, BanTransFats.com (BTF), filed a federal lawsuit against McDonald’s for failing to reduce the amount of trans fat the company used in its cooking process. In 2002, McDonald’s had publicly announced that, by February 2003, they would voluntarily begin using an “improved cooking oil” to prepare their fried foods. Do so would significantly reduce the amount of trans fat in their products by 48% ("Mcdonald's exposed for," 2004).
McDonald’s withdrew their promise and did not switch over to a cooking oil with less trans fat, nor did they reveal to consumers that the conversion did not take place. The company claims that they changed their minds when customers began complaining that they did not want the taste of McDonald’s food to change (Horovitz, 2007). BTF accused McDonald’s of false advertising, deceiving consumers, and not taking the health of their consumers into consideration. In their lawsuit, BTF claimed that “McDonald's failed to make clear to customers that the type of oil used to fry its foods (which contains TFAs) had not been changed” ("Responsible shopper," 2005). BTF did not seek monetary damages, they only asked that McDonald’s publicize their failure to switch over to the healthier cooking oil and make that conversion as soon as possible.
McDonald’s claimed that it was taking longer than expected to change to a new oil, but they were working on implementing the exchange. They did not provide any information as to how long they expected this to take. The company’s Chief Operating Officer stated that, "While speedy implementation is an admirable goal, we are most focused on the satisfaction of our customers and the quality of our products” ("Mcdonald's hit with," 2004).

In an attempt to settle the case, McDonald’s offered to donate $7 million to the American Heart Association, and they spent $1.5 million in making their efforts to reduce trans fat public. Consumers were educated on the dangers of trans fats, and pressure was placed on foodservice companies to reduce or eliminate these fats from their products. These companies were concerned that they may encounter a lawsuit as well, and many have taken steps to cut the amount of trans fats they put in the foods they produce. The companies that manufacture these oils jumped at the opportunity to market a new product and began formulating alternative oils ("Ingredient openings as," 2005).

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