People with allergies outraged by McDonald's nut decision
Facebook, Twitter users say they're #NotLovinIt as McDonald's warns products may now come in contact with nuts
People with allergies and those who care for them are outraged over a decision by McDonald's Canada to add nuts to some food items on its menu.
"It's disappointing for us and disappointing for my daughter," said Winnipegger Jeff Palmer, whose eight-year-old daughter, Heidi, has been tested and found to have a peanut allergy.
"We avoid any product that may contain peanuts," he said, and that means the Palmer family will also be avoiding McDonald's from now on.
"You don't want to have her excluded from birthday parties and events when they go to McDonald's to play in the playroom and that sort of thing," he said.
In a statement on its website, McDonald's said that as of Jan. 17 the company will be using nuts that are not individually packaged in some food items on its menu across Canada.
The company said its new Skor McFlurry "is the first product that will contain non-packaged peanuts or tree nuts. As a result, all products available at our restaurants may contain or come into contact with peanuts, tree nuts or other allergens."
McDonald's says it is sensitive to the concerns of people with food allergies, which is why it's warning them about these changes.
But the McDonald's Canada Facebook site has been flooded with angry comments.
There's even a Twitter hashtag, #NotLovinIt.
NEW ALLERGY STATEMENT and we’re NOT lovin’ it! Tell <a href="https://twitter.com/McD_Canada">@McD_Canada</a> how this impacts you. Please share! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NotLovinIt?src=hash">#NotLovinIt</a> <a href="https://t.co/eRJeswA5GF">https://t.co/eRJeswA5GF</a> <a href="https://t.co/kTsl8hQgsn">pic.twitter.com/kTsl8hQgsn</a>—@FoodAllergyCAN
I try not to shame people or companies on here.But I am so effing mad at <a href="https://twitter.com/McD_Canada">@McD_Canada</a>. If your kids have allergies you get it. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/notlovinit?src=hash">#notlovinit</a>—@ShelleyACook
<a href="https://twitter.com/McD_Canada">@McD_Canada</a> change your menu back to what it was. People with nut allergies need to be supported, not ignored! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/notlovinit?src=hash">#notlovinit</a>—@woodbridgefc
For years, McDonald's has been a safe place for people with allergies to eat and the change is alarming, said Beatrice Povolo, director of advocacy and media relations for the group Food Allergy Canada.
"They would like to better understand what's changed and what procedures are in place to minimize the risks," she said.
McDonald's has obviously made a calculated decision, balancing the negative publicity and the bottom line, said Sylvain Charlebois, dean of the faculty of management at Dalhousie University in Halifax
"This decision may have something to do with their procurement strategy. We've seen McDonald's making tweaks and changes to their menu, making it a little less labour intensive. And perhaps at some point, they've had to make a decision around ingredients," he said.
"We may actually be experiencing sort of a peak in terms of risk avoidance in food safety. More and more people are starting to suggest that perhaps more risk is actually good for your health and maybe that's why McDonald's has decided to move forward on this policy," he said.
The decision may have industry-wide ripple effects, he said. "What other chains will consider McDonald's decision as a worthy decision to consider?"
Marketing experts are divided on how big an effect this will have, but they do agree it will leave a bad taste in many people's mouths.
"[The] McDonald's brand is so strong and so resilient that I doubt there will be a drastically major negative effect from those who don't have allergies or kids with allergies," David Wilkie, CEO of the Winnipeg advertising firm Fusion said in an email.
"The people with allergies will not go anymore.… I don't know how many people that is, but imagine the baseball team and the soccer team and school trips. No stopping at McDonald's anymore. That means not only will [the chain] miss out on people with allergies, but on their friends, colleagues and teammates too."
Jeff Palmer is among those who will be looking for a new fast-food option for their families, but he has a message for McDonald's.
"There's such a huge outcry, so many people affected, I wish they would reconsider."