McDonald's Australia Limited will not re-advertise its "grilled chicken burger" as being "grilled" following court-enforceable undertakings to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
After complaints, the ACCC raised serious concerns that consumers were being misled about the cooking process of the burger The burger is cooked in the following manner: The chicken patty is initially cooked in a "Stein Jet Steam Oven"; The patties are then subject to treatment on a "heat and control rotary brander". This device sears the surface of the patty, imparting parallel grill marks; The patty is then frozen and transported to restaurants; and At the restaurant the patty is thawed prior to final cooking in a "clamshell grill". This device is essentially a two-sided flat hot plate.
It believes the cooking process, when viewed in its entirety, is not a grilling process.
The ACCC believes the extensive advertising of the burger as "grilled" constituted misleading or deceptive conduct, in breach of section 52 of the Trade Practices Act 1974, and a false representation, with respect to the qualities and history of the burger, in breach of section 53(a).
"When purchasing 'fast food' consumers increasingly place considerable importance on the way the food is prepared," ACCC Chairman, Professor Allan Fels, said today. "If retailers advertise foods as being prepared in a way which consumers are likely to demand, they must ensure their claims match reality. This chicken burger was initially cooked in an oven, branded and seared and then cooked between two hot plates".
McDonald's has also agreed to implement a trade practices compliance program in relation to relevant consumer protection provisions of the Trade Practices Act.
In accepting the undertaking, the ACCC noted McDonald's cooperation in resolving the matter and that the promotion of the "grilled chicken burger" was in any event to have ceased as soon as pre-existing stocks of the chicken burger were exhausted.
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