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Aussie McDonald’s Burgers Withdrawn

June 17, 1999

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) _ A McDonald’s subsidiary has decided to stop selling grilled chicken burgers at hundreds of restaurants in Australia after a consumer group challenged the way they were being cooked.

McDonald’s Australia Ltd. said Thursday it would stop advertising the burgers as ``grilled″ after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission found that grilling was not involved.

The company also said it would withdraw the burger from the menus of its more than 640 fast-food restaurants when stocks run out. But it said that had nothing to do with the complaint but with weak sales.

In response to complaints from consumers, the government-funded commission examined the cooking process and found that consumers were being misled, possibly illegally.

The commission said that the chicken patties were being precooked in steam ovens. The brown marks suggesting the meat was seared by a grill were applied by a machine called a ``heat and control rotary brander.″

The patties were then frozen and transported to restaurants, where they were thawed and cooked in a two-sided hot plate before being served.

Professor Allan Fels, the commission chairman, said extensive advertising of the burger by McDonald’s as grilled constituted misleading or deceptive conduct in a breach of Australia’s Trade Practice’s Act.

``Their claims (must) match reality,″ Fels said.

John Blyth, a McDonald’s Australia spokesman, said he understood the cooking process and was ``content to describe it as grilling.″

Nevertheless, the company has given the commission ``court-enforceable undertakings″ to drop the word grilled from advertising.

Blyth said the decision to discontinue sale of the patties was ``based on the level of sales ... and had nothing to do with the ACCC’s inquiry.″

The commission is responsible for enforcing legislation that guards against anti-competitive and unfair market practices.

McDonald’s Australia is a subsidiary of McDonald’s Corp., based in Oak Brook, Ill.

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