Controversial Food: The Ethics of McDonald’s Obese Product Offering


I’ve decided to write my paper on the McDonald’s company. They are extremely controversial in the world today because of the limited nutritional quality of their food. In addition, McDonald’s was part of the “pink slime” debate when the quality of their meat came into question. McDonald’s operates in over 100 different countries and is a prime example of questionable company business ethics.

McDonald’s serves food with limited nutritional value to over 70 million people per day worldwide. Some people survive because of the low price and the availability of a job. With more than 35,000 locations McDonald’s brings food and work to thousands of people, but they are not interested in the health of the communities in which they operate. By serving low-quality, calorie rich, food that almost always contains meat, they have simultaneously harmed their customer base as well as the environment due to the necessity for increased meat production.

The stakeholder management ethics employed by McDonald’s have changed dramatically throughout it’s business history. When they were started, McDonald’s focused on bringing people the average american hamburger at a good price and quickly, revolutionizing the fast food industry with the invention of the drive through. Since they started, the portion size of all of their products has increased dramatically. A “large” soda used to be 16oz, today a 16oz soda is a step above child size. This occurred because McDonald’s was compelled to fill customer demand to feel “full” after a meal. The portion size increase did not, however, account for the massive increase in calories from the food and has played a major role in spreading obesity which leads to chronic health problems such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

Recently, in response to pressure, McDonald’s has begun to introduce sugar free foods and healthier options such as salads and apples to their menu. This only occurred after the release of “super-size me” and “fast-food nation” both of which intended to display the negative aspects of companies that operate like McDonald’s and their effect on Americans and the environment. After these movies were released, McDonald’s saw a massive decrease in North American consumption.

Their lack of action preceding the negative PR and loss of sales shows that McDonald’s is not interested in the welfare of their customers, rather they desire an addictive nature that causes people to eat their food constantly and harm themselves. This is morally and ethically wrong, but how can a company like McDonald’s act in the best interest of their customers when their product offering is focused on unhealthy food?

I will examine sources from both sides of the argument as well as factual knowledge. First, there are large amounts of articles about the poor nature of McDonald’s food offering. Next there is McDonald’s response to the negative PR, and lastly there are financial trends that reflect McDonald’s rise and fall in this country as well as others.

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3 responses to “Controversial Food: The Ethics of McDonald’s Obese Product Offering

  1. Has McDonald’s lost sales? Isn’t it also due to new entrants in fast food like Chipotle, Five Guys Burgers and others?

    There is an author, Ritzer, who has written on McDonald’s as a force for the rationalization and industrialization of food. Will be useful.

    I would love to see the defense of McDonald’s, too. They see themselves delivering value to customers. Do they really disregard their health impacts? There is a book called ;Sugar, Salt, Fat which provides some background for the choices food companies make. Not sure it includes McDonald’s but may be useful for this or White Paper.

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  2. McDonald’s is an interesting company to write about and it has been brought up in debates many times. Many people argue about the health problems McDonald’s foods can cause, but others argue that it is their decision to purchase the food. No one is forcing you to buy McDonalds, it is simply a decision you make on your own. Do you agree with this? What would you say in response to someone who says this about McDonalds?

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  3. Pingback: Blog Council- Organizations for Paper 2 | Stakeholders:Uncensored·

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