CHICAGO -- McDonald's Corp. has agreed to donate $10 million to Hindu and other groups to settle lawsuits filed against the chain for mislabeling french fries and hash browns as vegetarian.
McDonald's also posted an apology on its Web site, acknowledging that mistakes were made in communicating to customers about the ingredients in the fries and hash browns. The vegetable oil used to prepare the fries and hash browns was not pure, but contained essence of beef for flavoring purposes.
"We sincerely apologize for any hardship that these miscommunications have caused among Hindus, vegetarians and others," the company said in an apology posted June 1 on the Web site.
Seattle attorney Harish Bharti said Tuesday that a judge gave his tentative approval of the deal last month.
McDonald's spokeswoman Anna Rozenich said the money the company will be paying out will go to organizations that deal with issues linked to concerns raised by the consumers.
McDonald's was first sued over the fries in Seattle last year by three vegetarians, including two Hindus, who don't eat meat for religious reasons. Lawsuits were subsequently filed in Illinois, California, New Jersey and Texas.
The lawsuits were filed on behalf of any vegetarian who ate McDonald's fries after 1990. That was the year the company announced its restaurants would no longer use beef fat to cook fries and that only pure vegetable oil would be used.
McDonald's sincerely apologizes to Hindus, vegetarians and others for failing to provide the kind of information they needed to make informed dietary decisions at our U.S. restaurants.
We acknowledge that, upon our switch to vegetable oil in the early 1990's for the purpose of reducing cholesterol, mistakes were made in communicating to the public and customers about the ingredients in our French fries and hash browns. Those mistakes included instances in which French fries and hash browns sold at U.S. restaurants were improperly identified as "vegetarian."
We regret we did not provide these customers with complete information, and we sincerely apologize for any hardship that these miscommunications have caused among Hindus, vegetarians and others. We should have done a better job in these areas, and we're committed to doing a better job in the future.
As a direct result of these events, McDonald's has enhanced its disclosures concerning the source of ingredients in its food products. This information is available at McDonald's website, www.mcdonalds.com, and will be available at each store.
McDonald's has created a Dietary Practice/Vegetarian Advisory Panel consisting of experts in consumer dietary practices that will advise McDonald's on relevant dietary restrictions and guidelines, which McDonald's and others can use for marketing to persons who follow those restrictions. As part of this settlement, McDonald's is donating $10 million to Hindu, vegetarian and other groups whose charitable and educational activities are closely linked to the concerns of these consumers.
source: http://www.mcdonalds.com/countries/usa/whatsnew/pressrelease/2002/06012002/index.html 5jun02
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