“Nutritious”: ”Has Nutrients”

16:07 Sun 20 Sep 2009
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Friday’s post about Froot Loops and the “Smart Choices” program reminded me of a portion of the McLibel case, in which McDonald’s brought in an expert witness, Verner Wheelock, to assert that statements claiming that McDonald’s food wasn’t ”nutritious”, or was “junk food”, were false. I can’t find a transcript online—the site that should have them is producing errors instead—but Wheelock defined “nutritious” as “contains nutrients” and “junk food” as “whatever a person doesn’t like”.

In addition, McDonald’s executive David Green defined “nutritious” similarly and agreed that Coca-Cola was nutritious by his definition because it was “providing water, and I think that is part of a balanced diet”.

While looking for the court transcripts, I looked over some of the other issues related to the trial, for example the fact that McDonalds hired private detective agencies to infiltrate and spy upon the activist group involved in the creation of the pamphlet that later became the basis for the trial. This still surprises me, and I think that in general the tendency of large corporations towards this kind of authoritarian spying and bullying is quite underestimated (I referred to this in my poast about Lidl Spying on Retail Employees). It’s also rather ludicrous, particularly when you consider how much money they put into investigating groups that are completely ineffectual. (It’s pretty clear that the effectiveness of the group involved in the McLibel trial was enhanced fantastically by the trial itself.)

It’s very interesting, and illustrative of both above points, to read this interview with Fran Tiller, who was hired to spy upon the group later involved in the McLibel trial and who later ended up being a witness for the defense in that trial.

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