Attorney General Says McDonald’s ‘Healthy’ Ads Misleading
NEW YORK (AP) _ Attorney General Robert Abrams on Friday asked McDonald’s to stop using what he called deceptive print advertisements about the nutritional value of its food.
Abrams said he was taking the action in concert with the attorneys general of Texas and California, whose offices had reviewed a recent ad campaign that focuses on nutrition.
″The intent and overall impact of the current campaign is to deceive consumers into believing that McDonald’s food is healthful and wholesome,″ Abrams said in a letter to the president of the company, Ed Rensi, in Oakbrook, Ill.
Stephanie Skurdy, McDonald’s director of media relations, denied that the ads were deceptive.
″They are factual, they are straightforward and they were designed to inform customers about the nutritional content of our food,″ she said.
She added, ″McDonald’s is part of a healthy diet.″
Abrams said that ″McDonald’s own publications reveal repeated examples of foods containing unhealthful levels of sodium, fat or cholesterol.″
Skurdy said that before the ads started running in January, they were reviewed for accuracy by a ″number of outside health professionals″ as well as the corporation’s own director of nutrition. She did not name those outside health professionals.
″Balance is best,″ says one ad. ″Balance comes from a variety of foods. Because nutritionists agree, no one food provides all the necessary nutrients.
″At McDonald’s, variety in our menu means you can balance what you order. And make sure your McDonald’s meal balances with other meals you eat.″
Another ad says McDonald’s products are made from ″good, basic, nutritious food.″
Failure to ″cease and desist″ the ad campaign would be considered a violation of the General Business Law, Abrams said.
Abrams said pressure last year from the three states prompted McDonald’s and other fast-food restaurants to distribute booklets on the nutritional content of their foods.
″Now, this substantial achievement for consumers has been distorted into an advertising campaign which appears intended to confuse and mislead,″ he wrote.