Published September 14, 2010
| The Wall Street Journal
McDonald's Corp. is the target of a new television commercial set to air in Washington, D.C., Thursday that blames the burger giant for heart disease.
In the commercial, produced by the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a woman weeps over a dead man lying in a morgue. In his hand is a hamburger. At the end, the golden arches appear over his feet, followed by the words, "I was lovin' it," a play on McDonald's longtime ad slogan, "I'm lovin' it." A voiceover says, "High cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart attacks. Tonight, make it vegetarian."
PCRM's president, Neal Barnard, was once on the board of the Foundation to Support Animal Protection, now known as the PETA Foundation, which provides accounting, legal and other services to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and other animal-protection groups. A PCRM spokeswoman says the organization has no link to PETA.
"McDonald's is committed to providing balanced menu choices and a variety of options to meet our customers' needs and preferences," said Cindy Goody, director of nutrition for McDonald's.
Scott DeFife, an executive vice president at industry group the National Restaurant Association, called the ad "irresponsible" and said it "attempts to scare consumers into making choices and promotes a limited view of good nutrition."
PCRM is airing the commercial to draw attention to heart-disease-related deaths in Washington. It says that the city has the second-highest rate of such deaths in the country, behind Mississippi, after adjusting for age, and that heart disease kills more than 1,500 Washingtonians each year. It also says the district has more McDonald's, Burger King and KFC restaurants per square mile than eight other similar-sized cities.
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