A new television advertisement is suggesting that McDonald's (MCD) food is so bad for people's health that it can lead to premature death. The ad, paid for by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), will begin to air in the Washington, D.C., area this week.
The ad shows a corpse, a bearded male who appears to be in his 40s, lying in a morgue, a half-eaten hamburger in his hand. A woman cries quietly next to the body as ominous music plays in the background. The camera swings slowly around the body, and as we see the body's feet, the distinctive McDonald's Golden Arches appear on a red screen, along with the words "I was lovin' it." A woman's voice says, "High cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart attacks. Tonight, make it vegetarian."'
PCRM was founded in 1985 to promote preventative medicine and ethical research. Washington, D.C., was chosen apparently because it has the second highest incidence of heart-related deaths after Mississippi. The group is considering rolling out the ad in other markets this fall, including Chicago, Detroit, Miami and Memphis.
This isn't the first time the world's largest fast food chain has come under attack for serving unhealthy food. However, McDonald's claims it is committed to balanced diets. On the company's website, it states: "You rely on us to deliver quality food, and we take that responsibility seriously. From our team of registered dietitians to our trusted suppliers, we're dedicated to making you feel good about choosing McDonald's foods and beverages."
But the calorie list for some of its food is eye-opening. An Angus Deluxe has 350 calories and a lot of sodium (1,700 mg) and cholesterol (135 mg). A Big Breakfast has 470 calories, hot chocolate with non-fat milk has 390 calories, and some of the company's new smoothies have a calories count of over 300. In other words, it would be pretty easy to have a 1,500 calorie meal at McDonald's, loaded with sodium and cholesterol.
Given the growing local and organic food movements, McDonald's and its rivals like Burger King (BKC) and Starbucks (SBUX) will likely come under continued pressure to reduce the harmful ingredients in their food and beverages. What is good for them for the time being, at least financially, is that many of their customers don't seem to care.
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