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McDonald’s deserves a break today

Several years ago, McDonald’s was successfully sued by a woman who’d burned her mouth on hot coffee she purchased at the fast-food franchise.
Now the home of the Golden Arches is waiting to hear a judge’s ruling in a lawsuit filed by a couple whose children allegedly became obese after regularly eating at McDonald’s. The parents said their children also developed health problems as a result of their dining choices.
I’m hoping U.S. District Judge Robert W. Sweet rules against the Bronx family and gives McDonald’s a break. After all, wasn’t it McDonald’s the franchise that said you deserved one?
Initially, I was shocked when I heard about the burned mouth judgment. Come on. I don’t drink coffee, but I know that if you buy a cup that’s supposed to be fresh, it should also be hot. Duh.
I have since learned more about the 1994 case involving the 81-year-old Albuquerque, N.M., woman that has caused me to be more understanding of why she filed the suit and why the jury awarded such a large sum — $2.9 million — of money to her.
What I didn’t know was that McDonald’s had received at least 700 reports of burns from hot coffee and had settled many claims prior to the ’94 lawsuit. Independent testing showed that McDonald’s coffee was about 20 degrees hotter than anyone else’s, a temperature hot enough to produce third-degree burns in just a few seconds.
The judge, while calling McDonald’s conduct “reckless, callous and willful,” later reduced the punitive damage award to $480,000.
I sympathize with the woman, but I contend that one should expect something that is typically hot to be hot, and to what degree of hot is irrelevant. One should be aware that coming in physical contact with it, regardless if it’s the expected way (drinking coffee) or unexpected (spilling it), may cause problems.
For example, I know that water from the hot water faucet is probably going to be hot. But I quickly learned that the hot water heater at church is set higher than mine at home. I did not sue the church, nor did I insist that it put caution stickers on the faucets to indicate that the hot water is really hot.
This latest lawsuit, though, against McDonald’s appears to rank right up there with countless others in this country where the plaintiff is looking for a way to live high on the hog, or, in this case, the Mcbeef.
The New York couple’s attorney claims that McDonald’s doesn’t want its consumers to know about the high fat content of its products and that if such information was displayed more prominently, the plaintiffs would have acted differently.
Yeah, right.
The information I read about the suit filed in Manhattan federal court didn’t state the ages of the couple’s two children, so let’s look at two possible scenarios.
Possibility A: The children are still young enough that they can’t go to McDonald’s by themselves.
If this is the case, shouldn’t the parents have been better educated about what they were letting their children eat? What do they feed their children when they’re not treating them to Happy Meals? And, is McDonald’s the only fast-food chain they frequent? (Hey, Burger King and Wendy’s have had some pretty nifty toys in their children’s meals through the years.)
Possibility B: The youngsters are now teenagers who make most of their own decisions about what, when and where they eat. And what better place to hang out with friends after school and after ball games than the local Mickey D’s?
Health classes have improved in recent years to include lessons about nutrition. Teens know how to read a Nutrition Facts label. (Perhaps these youngsters were unable to concentrate in this particular class after gobbling a super-size value meal for lunch.) And if either one of these plaintiffs is a young woman, she is more likely to be able to tell you the total number of calories from fat she has consumed in the course of a day easier than she can name the state capitals.
Either way, these two children didn’t reach obesity proportions after eating just a couple of meals at the Golden Arches.
This is an area I know something about: I am a junk-food junkie. It’s not that I can’t cook; I just prefer not to spend time in the kitchen, slaving over a hot stove. What a waste!
And that’s one place where eating out can get you — in the waist, not to mention derriere, thighs, etc.
Yes, people’s metabolism rates are different; that’s why it’s important to know your limits. If after four days, for example, of unhealthy eating, you know you’re going to put on a few extra pounds or your body begins to sound an alarm that it needs more nutritious food, then you probably are going to try to get your recommended daily allowance of fruit and vegetables at least for the next day or two.
And don’t forget the importance of exercise. If you do nothing to burn off those calories you consumed, it doesn’t amount to a hill of beans whether you just digested a plain, grilled chicken breast or a fried polish sausage.
M-O-D-E-R-A-T-I-O-N is the key. I know if I devour unlimited amounts of my favorite foods — chocolate, pizza, chips, you get the picture — that I’m going to experience a serious, unwanted weight gain, and if I don’t nip it in the bud before it gets too far out of hand, then I’m going to be needing a larger-size wardrobe.
McDonald’s contends that it is not responsible for “an individual’s overall diet and lifestyle choices … ”
I agree.
The nutritional information for McDonald’s as well as other fast-food choices is available. If you can’t find it prominently displayed, ask for it. While you’re checking it out, would you like some fries to go along with it?