About a week or so ago I was reading the Sunday Honolulu Star Advertiser, which serves also as really good toilet paper. My only purpose of this paper is that they publish a daily Jumble puzzle and I love vocabulary scrambles.
Anyway, I get to the financial section, which is second best to the obituary page, and I see this article written by Charles Passy, who I assume writes for The Wall Street Journal. What got me was the title, 10 Things McDonalds Won’t tell You. How could I resist giving him credit and giving you a laugh?
Before listing the 10 points, he states that the food may be getting better, but the business is getting worse for Mickey D’s (my choice of the name). Now, for his 10 revelations:
1. We may have lost the recipe to our secret sauce.
Ah, McDonald’s, where we feast on Big Macs, Egg McMuffins and even the occasional sweet-chili chicken McWrap. In the U.S., the fast-food chain, founded in 1948, has sales almost three times as big as its nearest competitor. Worldwide, the company serves almost 70 million customers a day, in more than 100 countries. In 2014, such feasting equated to revenue of $27.4 billion.
But these days, things don’t seem golden under the Golden Arches. McDonald’s recently reported that its net income in the fourth quarter of 2014 dropped by 21 percent from a year earlier. And in January, the company changed management, with CEO Don Thompson retiring.
What’s behind the company’s woes? Some restaurant experts cite the Chipolte factor: Fast-casual chains- widely seen as healthier, and more popular with millenials – are grabbing market share. Others fault the proliferation of new items on the menu, which has been linked to slower service.
McDonald’s spokeswoman Becca Hary says that 2014 was a difficult year and performance fell short of our expectations, but that our management team is focused on regaining momentum.
2. We say opportunity; others say low-wage job.
About 1.9 million people worldwide work for McDonald’s. And, like other fast-food chains, McDonald’s has come under fire for paying low wages.
PayScale, a firm that tracks compensation data, puts McDonald’s median pay for restaurant workers at $7.74 an hour, slightly below that of such competitors as Burger King at $7.96 and Wendy’s at $7.87. The nationwide minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.
Ms. Hary says the company supports “fair wages” aligned with a competitive market-place, and adds that any increase in the minimum wage should be gradual, to minimize its impact on employers.
3. We may not be as charitable as we seem.
McDonald’s philanthropic efforts focus on its Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) organization, which maintains 300 residences that provide housing for families when a child is being treated at a nearby hospital.
But some critics have questioned how generous McDonald’s is. A 2013 report by public-health lawyer Michele Simon found that McDonald’s provided only one-fifth of the funding for RMHC in 2012. Simon also reported that McDonald’s gave 0.32 percent of its pretax profits to charity (based on a six-year average), while other corporations of similar size gave an average of 1.01 percent.
McDonald’s declined to comment on Ms. Simon’s report.
4. For every Big Mac success, we have plenty of Hula Burger flops.
The Big Mac, the Quarter Pounder and the McRib are some of McDonald’s iconic inventions. But the chain has also launched its share of duds. Among them: the Hula Burger (with a slice of grilled pineapple substituting for a beef patty), McSalad Shakers (a salad served in a cup), and even a McPizza.
Wall Street analysts say McDonald’s recent paucity of breakthrough items has some investors concerned.
5. We’ve faced plenty of challenges overseas.
McDonald’s has a strong presence in cities around the world, from Abu Dhabi to Zagreb. But over the past year, the chain has run into headline-grabbing issues abroad.
In China, its meat supplier was accused of selling goods beyond their shelf life (more about this at the end). And after McDonald’s closed restaurants in Crimea following Russia’s annexation of the Ukrainian region, several of the chain’s restaurants in Moscow, Sochi and other cities, ostensibly because of sanitation issues.
In a conference call before his retirement was announced, Mr. Thompson said McDonald’s was in recovery mode in Russia and China with a focus on winning customers back.
6. We’re still blamed for the obesity epidemic.
After the 2004 release of the documentary Super-Size Me, in which filmmaker Morgan Spurlock ate only McDonald’s food for 30 days and gained 24 pounds, McDonald’s became a symbol of fast food’s role in America’s obesity epidemic.
Since then, McDonald’s had added more menu items that nutritionists approve of, and eliminated the supersize option. But, nutritionists still fault much of its menu items as high in calories and saturated fat. Ms. Hary says the chain is providing information to enable our guests to make informed choices.
7. Pink-slime wasn’t our only controversial ingredient.
In 2011, McDonald’s was ahead of its competitors in removing a controversial ingredient from its hamburgers – a finely textured beef dubbed pink-slime by critics.
But food-safety advocates continue to express concern about McDonald’s beef, which isn’t hormone-free (some critics believe the hormones pose a health risk), and its breads, which contain azodicarbonamide, a chemical that makes breads fluffier but is also found in yoga mats.
McDonald’s says it is committed to being transparent about the ingredients it uses, and that it will begin purchasing verifiable sustainable beef in 2016 (until then, screw um).
8. Our franchisees aren’t always happy campers.
In the U.S., 90 percent of McDonald’s restaurants are independently owned and operated by franchisees. But there’s dissension in the franchise ranks: in a recent survey by Janney Capital Markets analyst Mark Kalinowski, some franchisees expressed frustration with the company for its marketing efforts and for making changes too slowly. Ms. Hary says the study captures the views of a small number of the chain’s 2,00-plus franchisees.
Franchisees have also complained about new menu items that result in slower service. Our kitchen comes to a halt when we get an order for a McWrap, one franchisee told The Wall Street Journal last year.
9. There could be more than one Ronald.
Ronald McDonald has been part of the company’s marketing for more than50 years. The red-haired clown makes appearances everywhere from McDonald’s restaurants to schools and libraries. He’s on Twitter, and even takes selfies.
But while Ronald’s schedule would seem to demand deployment of multiple clowns, McDonald’s doesn’t publicly acknowledge that it employs more than one Ronald.
10. We’ve got a secret menu.
Like Starbuck’s and other chains, McDonald’s has a secret menu – widely discussed online – of dishes that can be created by piercing together ingredients from established items.
The Poor Man’s Big Mac, for example, is a McDouble burger with extra lettuce and special sauce instead og ketchup and mustard. The Chicken McGriddle is a McChicken patty between two McGriddle cakes. And, the Land, Sea and Air Burger? It’s a gut-busting alalgam of a Big Mac, a Filet-O-Fish and a MCchicken sandwich.
And this is how a reporter that values his job writes about McDonald’s. For me, instead of Golden Arches, the logo should be a Toilet Bowl to emphasize the fact that McDonald’s craps on everyone and anyone with no prejudice to race, color, religion or sexual preference.
The fact that they will change to a “better” beef in a year means that first we use up what we’ve got and then we buy new stuff that resembles beef.
But they are loved. Imagine what the pharmaceutical industry would be like without “Crapola D’s” and how many customers (Oh, I mean patients) the medical profession would lose if the fast food restaurants closed.
Wanna have some fun with an experiment? Go buy a Big Mac, take it home and put it somewhere while it’s in its original, unopened package for at least a month. Then go find it and open it. Betcha it’s still like it was when you bought it. The horrors thrust upon us never end.
So much for the bad news. How about we get to really, really, bad news?
Recently, in China, health officials found that flesh foods that were imported illegally, were in some cases, 40 years old.
From rat meat masquerading as lamb to tainted milk to exploding watermelons, Chinese consumers have become exposed to stomach-aching food scandals.
In a New York Times article it was reveled that unscrupulous flesh traders in China had been peddling tons of beef, pork and chicken wings that in some cases had been frozen for 40 years
The Chinese news media announced that authorities had seized nearly a half-billion dollars worth of smuggled frozen flesh that dated back to the 1970s.
As a result, many Chinese consumers were forced to consider becoming strict vegetarians.
What was seized was worth roughly $483 million and the nationwide crackdown spanned 14 provinces and regions.
The procedure was that flesh foods were shipped from abroad to Hong Kong and then brought to Vietnam, where traders would smuggle it across the Chinese border without declaring it to customs officials or going through the required inspection and quarantine procedures.
From there, as if it couldn’t get any worse, the criminals would often transport the flesh in unrefrigerated trucks to save costs and then refreeze it several times again before it reached customers.
In Changsha, the capital of central Hunan province, officials seized 800 tons of frozen flesh and estimated that one-third of flesh products on sale at the largest wholesale market were illegally imported and to put it bluntly, rotted!
In the USA, the time from slaughter to consumption is usually a week to ten days. If the nature of a dead body is to rot, turn grey, and stink to high heaven, why is it rosy-red with no odor when you buy it? Think about it!
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