McDonald’s, If It’s Come To This, Just Improve Your Food

Image courtesy of (Harry McCracken)

“We’ve heard the same rumors you have,” says a recent publication from McDonald’s. “Fillers in our beef, so called ‘pink slime.'” The message is fine, but the location is problematic: McDonald’s is not only protesting a little too much, but this message is on a tray placemat. In one of their restaurants. The kind that you look at while you eat your McDonald’s food.

“I sort of feel that McDonald’s shouldn’t mention pink slime on its trays,” mused technology journalist Harry McCracken on Twitter, “even if only to debunk it.”

Let’s refresh our memories about what “pink slime” is. The pink bricks are a way to use trimmings from cow carcasses that would normally be thrown away. These small pieces are cooked, have the fat separated out using a centrifuge, and are sprayed with ammonia gas to kill bacteria. Then they’re packed into pink bricks shipped to sellers of ground beef, where it’s used as a filler that is, technically, beef. That’s how the U.S. Department of Agriculture defines it.

The idea of ammonia-sprayed meat and just the phrase “pink slime” turned the public against the stuff: the company that makes it sued news network ABC for defamation.

If you don’t like the existence of pink slime, too bad: higher beef prices mean that as of last year, it was popular again. Just not at McDonald’s. Apparently.

McDonald’s doesn’t use pink slime now, but they used to. The company stopped using the product in their burgers back in 2011, but still fights rumors that it comprises 85% of their ground beef.

We’ve said this before, of course: once you’re putting on a defensive ad campaign explaining that your food is actually made out of food, you’ve already lost. When you’re reminding people of what used to be in their burgers while they eat their burgers, you’ve really lost.

With that, we offer some suggestions for alternate placemat messages for McDonald’s.

  • Picture some mucus. That’s not us.
  • We promise we washed our hands.
  • Our food now contains food. (This isn’t far off the message of the current McDonald’s campaign.)
  • Chicken McNuggets are definitely not made from mutant birds the size of goats.
  • Our lemonade is 100% mucus-free.
  • McDonald’s: Better Than Eating Off The Floor!

Would any of these things have occurred to you before seeing them on your placemat? Probably not!

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