The Ethical Dilemma of McDonald’s
McDonald’s currently faces a crisis, as parents, who objected to the free toys offered with the McDonald’s Happy Meal, sued the company. San Francisco passed a law banning free toys with food. In this paper, I will address how a corporation responds to a law, which challenges the organization’s current policies. I will also assess McDonald’s ethical dilemma of the balancing corporate concerns and community concerns, and I will argue they can still provide toys with their food if they can make their food healthier and the toys encourage children to eat healthy food. Description
The decision of which restaurant to go to and which meal to buy may be based on the quality of the food and the service. To children, free toys are definitely huge attraction that informs their choice in restaurants or meals. McDonald’s could be a great choice because the company claims they are working with the best suppliers, and provide the best quality food for their customers. McDonald’s also provides free toys to children with the Happy Meals which are targeted to children. McDonald's started selling Happy Meals with free toys targeted at children in the 1970s. The Happy Meal is generally a hamburger, french fries, and sugar drink that is high in sodium, fat, and calories. However, to eat a Happy Meal makes children happy, but the food is not healthy to children. In addition, McDonald’s official website doesn’t offer specific information on the calories, sodium, sugar, and fat in each Happy Meal menu item. A group of consumers and nutrition advocates sued McDonald's for using toys to market directly to young children in 2010. Next year, San Francisco issued a law banning free toys with food for children. Ethical Dilemma
There is an ethical question to how McDonald’s responded to the law. That is, they followed the letter of the law versus the spirit of the law. In other words, the company changed the policy in order to avoid breaking the law. However, parents and scholars argue the company should change the policy not only to follow the law, but also meet the public demands. The dilemma is corporate’s benefit versus community concern. “Ethical organizations are accountable to their stakeholders in a responsible and responsive manner” (May, 2010, p.27). The company has the responsibility to be productive in order to maintain or increase shareholders’ investment. The community is also one of the stakeholders in McDonald’s. The community will feel satisfied if the company makes more effort to care about children’s health. The community believes McDonald’s has the responsibility of preventing child obesity because children love to eat McDonald’s food. The degree of the food nutrition ‘s transparency also brings a ethical issue to McDonald’s.
Children and by extension their parents are the customers who buy Happy Meal. The toys in Happy Meals are leading children to make unhealthy dietary choices. High calories high sodium food and high sugar beverages, which can cause childhood obesity, are harmful children’s health. Moreover, overweight children often become obese adults. According to Stephen Gardner, CSPI (Center for Science in the Public Interest) litigation director, "McDonald's use of toys undercuts parental authority ” (Watkins, 2011). Normally, parents choose food for their children because they want their children’s to eat nutritionally balanced food. But children will ask parents to buy Happy Meals because they want to get the toys. If parents are not willing to buy, children may cry and yell. Parents’ authorities are undermined because they follow their children’s decision but do not make decisions for them. For the Owners and shareholders of McDonald’s, selling Happy Meals brings a lot of money to McDonald’s. It might be risky to remove the toys in the Happy Meal because the revenue might decrease. As primary task of a business is to...