In a blog post on social media last year, a smart aleck wrote that a man should always seek a woman who would be willing to settle for a cheap meal at McDonald’s. The post became so popular that a short video based on the story became the top local 2013 video on YouTube with 1.7 million hits.
But now, in the wake of the “rotten meat” scandal, does the McDonald’s theory still hold good? Let’s just say, we’re not sure.
Admitting that it had imported spicy chicken and frozen minced pork from Shanghai Husi Food, the company that is at the center of a stale-meat scandal in China, McDonald’s Hong Kong announced Thursday that it has suspended sales of popular chicken nuggets and McSpicy chicken filets and four other items including even iced fresh lemon tea.
A three-day delay in disclosing business links with Husi Food has triggered a storm of criticism from legislators and media for the US-based fast-food chain. The company’s reassurance that “customers are always the core of McDonald’s Hong Kong” has failed to soothe the anger.
The poor handling of the issue — which prompted online ridicule and suggestions that the firm alter its famous slogan to “I’m hidin’ it” — by the world’s top quick-service restaurant operator was in sharp contrast with the frank admission this week of media maverick Jimmy Lai to political donations to the democratic camp, confirming information that was revealed in an online leak of documents.
For many Hongkongers, the suspension of McNuggets has come as more shocking news than Beijing’s recent White Paper although both incidents show that not all China imports may be good for Hong Kong, contrary to what the pro-establishment camps might say.
As for yours truly, a 40-year MacDonald’s fan, the news has left me with a very bad after-taste, given that I must have eaten at least half a dozen McChicken HK$21 sets in the past two months. The fast-food outlet is often the first thing that comes to my mind when I do not have a lunch partner or when I simply cannot find a sit-down eatery that doesn’t charge double the prices.
Hong Kong is always ranked near the bottom in The Economist’s “Big Mac Index” which measures purchasing power parity among different countries for consumer prices. Many foreign visitors wonder how Hong Kong can price its hamburgers so cheap in one of the world’s most expensive cities.
Despite a campaign by global health activists against fast-food chains, I discovered recently that McDonald’s is popular among senior citizens as well. I once jokingly offered to take a lady in her mid-70s to a McDonald’s outlet, expecting her to turn down the invitation. But to my surprise, the woman replied that she in fact went there every day because of the special HK$21 set meal.
That information made me wonder if that elderly person had even more unhealthy meals than me.
Coming back to the current situation, I believe McDonald’s Hong Kong should offer a more sincere apology to all its customers. People like me shouldn’t have the uncomfortable feeling that the fast-food chain was able to offer cheap meal sets simply because it was able to procure repackaged old meat at knock-down prices.
Post script: For anyone who has already made plans to take a girl out on a McDonald’s date, here’s a suggestion. Try the Cha Chaan Teng.
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