McMutton dressed as McLamb? Don't you believe it
So here’s a confession.
As a fresh faced youth I worked for McDonald’s. That appalling conglomerate, fronted by gormless, spotty simpletons with no hope for the future, purveying food made up of the eyes, brains and testicles of cows, chickens and, no doubt, stray dogs.
Well that’s how some would portray it, anyway.
I’m not alone in having worked there of course. Hundreds of thousands have sweated and strived under the shadow of the Golden Arches, with many a famous face amongst them. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, Jay Leno, James Franco, Rachel McAdams, Shania Twain, Pink. The list goes on.
But, whilst a McJob isn’t the first step on the road to nowhere, it does have a grubby reputation. Aware of this, it’s in the shady area of my CV and often left out entirely.
I didn’t embrace McEmployment with any particular enthusiasm. Or indeed embrace it at all. My parent’s wanted 16-year-old me to get a job. The prospect of work didn’t appeal too much, which meant my attempt at job hunting constituted one application to a local cafe. They offered me £2 an hour; I rejected it and concluded my job search with a shrug of my shoulders, deciding to embrace the holiday between secondary school and sixth form with teenage indolence.
My parents had other ideas. They applied to McDonald’s on my behalf and insisted that I went to the interview.
The process is less than rigorous and generally consists of “What’s your name?” <Insert name here> “Congratulations, you’ve got the job!”
Marvellous. My parents, within two months (their hilarious jape over), were encouraging me to leave to get a ‘proper job’, by which, they effectively meant a ‘respectable’ one. But my stubborn self was having none of this. They’d got me the job at McDonald’s, so they could tell their friends that their son works at McDonald’s with all of its associated grubbiness. In your face, parents!
Strangely though, and contrary to popular opinion, I ended up enjoying it. The people I worked with contributed to this significantly, whilst the flexible working hours afforded during my time at university made it hugely convenient. But the work wasn’t too bad either. Rather than being a static and modern version of the Amistad, it was actually (largely speaking) a humane working environment with proper working practices in place, which is what you’d tend to expect from a multinational corporation, unless of course you’re a crazed conspiracy theorist.
And crazed conspiracy theorists are what McDonald’s and its ilk often have to deal with in the battle for public opinion.
One thing that was hammered home to me in my years of ‘slaving’ over the 200-degree grill was the mantra, “It’s 100% beef.” There was never any leeway on this or indeed, any grey area. And for those who are worried about hygiene standards in McDonald’s, you really needn’t be. In other jobs (post McDonald’s), I’ve worked in hotels and restaurants and seen first hand that establishments with a reputation for fine dining have been far more lax when it comes to sanitation.
The thing about McDonald’s is that it abides to a code of conduct that is enforced throughout its restaurants. The fear amongst management was palpable during the dreaded audit when someone from a regional level came to visit.
That fear, more often than not, filtered down to the staff who made sure that they upped their game on ‘Judgement Day’. But the thing with this was, that unless training was accurately applied, they wouldn’t have been able to perform to a sufficient standard when under scrutiny. Of course there’s the odd indiscretion and the odd idiot, but you get that in almost all walks of life. By and large, McDonald’s hygiene and its food are of a good, if not excellent, standard.
From what I saw of it, at least. I was never privy to the secret workings of the factory. The food simply turned up in a delivery lorry and I cooked it, following carefully managed procedures.
But why apply rigorous routine to the restaurant and not to the factory? During the horsemeat scandal, McDonald’s emerged unscathed due to its strict processes. No scandal there.
And now it’s gone further. The restaurant chain has decided to open up its factory facilities and answer any customer queries about the food that’s produced.
For years its been plagued by rumours that the food is made up of ‘pink slime’ or, indeed, homeless drunks. Far from it.
Revealing its food production processes will no doubt revolt some, who believe cows produce burgers from their udders whilst happily dancing under the light of the moon. But from those living in the real world, McDonald’s processes will highlight that its food is made up of the real deal. Its beef is made from actual cows. Its chicken comes from actual chickens. And its McFlurry’s…well, the less said about them the better.
The factory transparency is great PR and goes someway to putting the rumours to bed that by eating a Chicken McNugget you’re effectively eating a pig’s eyeball. So here’s a PR high five to you Ronald McDonald, Grimace and the Hamburglar. Nice one.