McDonald's Business Brisk Despite Exposé


Business at McDonald's seems to go from strength to strength, even after irregularities in the fast-food chain's food preparation process and management systems were highlighted on the CCTV program "China's Consumer Rights Day" broadcast on March 15. Following the broadcasting of the program, a reporter from the Beijing Evening News visited McDonald's Chengdu Chunxi Road and Wangfujing outlets and found that business was brisk at both locations.


A McDonald's outlet [By Zhang Yichen/]

Some customers told reporters that they would continue to support McDonald following CCTV's exposé. However, the Internet is rife with criticisms of the US fast-food giant, with many people calling on the media to conduct more secret visits to see if the latest case is an isolated incident, or an industry-wide problem.

Chengdu's Chunxi Road McDonald's outlet was packed at 3 p.m. yesterday, with many customers expressing their support for the company. One female customer surnamed Mao said she had seen the report on the Internet and did not believe that the problems highlighted by the report were serious. She emphasized that it would not spoil her appetite or her desire to eat at McDonald's.

A male customer surnamed Lin commented that compared to previous food safety issues, the latest McDonald's irregularities "are more reassuring than [they are] a problem."

McDonald's China said it was working with government departments in investigating the issue and had required all of its 1,400 restaurants to carry out inspections and strengthen supervisory measures to prevent similar cases in the future. However, the two McDonald's outlets the Beijing Evening News reporter visited yesterday were operating normally, and neither food-safety-related officials nor any of McDonald's internal management staff were in evidence.

However, Internet opinions were in stark contrast to those heard at McDonald's outlets.

One Internet user nicknamed "Daichao-Terry" wrote on his microblog: "How dare you sell such contaminated food to our people?" This sentiment was widely evident in numerous postings following the broadcasting of the CCTV program. Zheng Yuanjie, a renowned Chinese writer of children's literature, wrote on his microblog: "Well, even the Western fast food is not clean now."

An internet user nicknamed "Super Shuiwang" posted a commented on the Tianfu Community page yesterday, writing: "Maybe the health standards of McDonald's are stricter than some of the domestic brands. However, as long as the standards are established, you should work hard to comply with them." He also encouraged other Internet users to launch their own covert investigations to see if similar indiscretions were happening elsewhere.

After watching the program, many viewers were curious as to how such investigations are conducted. Yesterday, a number of CCTV reporters involved in the making of the program revealed their secrets.

The program's investigate reporter Mr. Zhang discussed his reasons for making McDonald's the target of his investigation.

"People are getting used to seeing reports about the dirty and illegal plants, so what about companies with very strict standards or a perfect corporate image?" he said.

"So I worked as a McDonald's employee for nearly three months and found a lot of violations. When certain types of food pass or are about to pass their sell-by date, the employee or manager working in the kitchen would use established, secret signals in order to notify those employees who are serving customers, in order to promote sales."

He continued: "For example, when the fried chicken wings are about to exceed their expiry date, the staff working in the kitchen will call 'tasty fried chicken wings.' Such secret signs are only understood by McDonald's employees. The customers are kept completely in the dark."

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