Euro health fears on McDonald's PR menu

OAK BROOK, IL: Public fears over 'mad cow disease' have caused a 9% drop in McDonald's European sales and a 7% drop in fourth quarter earnings.

OAK BROOK, IL: Public fears over 'mad cow disease' have caused a 9% drop in McDonald's European sales and a 7% drop in fourth quarter earnings.

OAK BROOK, IL: Public fears over 'mad cow disease' have caused a 9% drop in McDonald's European sales and a 7% drop in fourth quarter earnings.

The scare has prompted the fast food giant to reaffirm its commitment to educating the public on bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in its hamburger products.

When reporting the results, Chairman and CEO Jack Greenberg said, 'These results were tempered by the recent decline in consumer confidence in the European beef supply.'

He continued, 'By educating customers about our strict product specifications that assure our beef is safe from BSE, communicating our industry-leading safety and quality standards, and introducing additional menu variety, we partially offset the negative impact.' Since November 2000, the company has been involved in media relations, developed point of sale materials and ran print ads to educate consumers in France.

However, McDonald's faces a new crisis in Italy, where a suspected BSE case was found at a slaughterhouse conglomerate supplying the fast food chain. McDonald's said the slaughterhouse did not supply its restaurants.

The BSE issue has yet to generate serious problems for food companies in the US. But an ABC News/Washington Post January poll reports that 44% of Americans say they are concerned about mad cow disease.

According to the National Cattleman's Beef Association (NCBA), the US has never seen a case. But organizations are gearing up for the eventuality.

In response to increased public interest in the disease, NCBA last week launched a dedicated Web site on BSE and associated diseases at www.bseinfo.org.

Rick McCarty, NCBA's executive director of issues management said that the organization's surveys show Americans are aware of BSE, 'but I don't think they are particularly concerned,' he added.



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