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November 4, 2010 / Katie

Manager sues McDonald’s for weight gain and wins

From SlashFood:

A manager at a McDonald‘s in Brazil sued the company because he said working at the fast-food chain made him fat — and he won.

From a first glance, we might assume that he is saying he ate too much food just by virtue of being around it, but apparently the situation was more complicated than that:

It wasn’t just all those complimentary employee meals that caused him to balloon from 155 pounds to more than 230, the man said. It was his fear of “mystery clients” (presumably the Brazilian equivalent of “secret shoppers”). The manager said that he was so intimidated by the prospect that these stealth eaters would find his restaurant’s food subpar that he felt he was required to sample menu items every day.

I find it kind of horrifying on several levels, if he really was so terrified of quality control that he was eating more than he wanted/needed, and especially of that type of food.  I mean, I have no problem with people choosing to eat at McDonald’s but I think it’s pretty clear it’s not the healthiest choice, and no one should ever feel compelled by their job (or anything else) to eat it.

Beyond that, I don’t know what else to say about this.  What do you think?

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5 Comments

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  1. Jenna / Nov 4 2010 10:27 am

    This is a deceptively complicated post which can be viewed from so many angles. I guess the knee jerk reaction would be that no one puts a gun to your head and makes you eat anything or the guy could have found a healthier job. MdDonalds however, has mastered the art of using sugar, saturated fat, salt combinations to exactly speak to what our bodies want, dense calories which were helpful a few hundred years ago… superfluous today. It is not healthy. Do I think he should have won a legal battle? Probably not. Do I think he works in a place that is very unhealthy for our bodies, the enrvironment and the animals it depends on? absolutely. Personally I don’t eat there (I am vegetarian) and even the fries now gross me out… and when I say that I dont mean on an intellectual level they seriously churn my stomach. There is nothing there I would ever want to eat.

  2. Sarah / Nov 4 2010 11:00 am

    McDonalds should take a look at his medical records, see if he was put on antidepressants, steroids (or other drugs that can cause weight gain), check his thyroid levels, test him for metabolic disorders (and several other diseases that have weight gain as a symptom), plus natural weight gain – as we age we do tend to gain weight. Take a look at his family history too for genetic evidence. Even if the greedy manager was stuffing his face daily, doesn’t mean that was the source, of his weight gain.

    McDonalds really should fight this tooth and nail, because if this ruling stands it will only encourage people to start on this ridiculous path of sue happiness.

    This also just encourages those stereotypes of fat people doing nothing but eating all day to get that way. From the studies I’ve seen, it is just as difficult to gain and maintain weight gain as it is to lose weight and maintain weight loss. Gaining more than a few pounds, even when overeating vast amounts (like the WWII starvation study showed), just doesn’t happen normally. If you are basically healthy and aren’t on any drugs, you have to work really hard, like going through many, many cycles of yo-yo dieting, to raise your body’s weight set point.

    In short weight gain is as complex an issue as weight loss and the manager’s eating of McDonalds food did not cause it – whether or not he felt compelled to eat the food. And even if by some strange biological quirk (a few rare people can change their body weight), McDonalds still isn’t responsible since the manager had many choices in how to deal with the food quality issue (he could have delegated the job; he could have, as other food tasters do, chewed, tasted and spit it out; he could have had single, small bites, of many different foods). Hamburgers and french fries are no more likely to cause permanent weight gain than celery is.

  3. vesta44 / Nov 4 2010 12:34 pm

    As far as his fear of secret shoppers finding the food subpar, I don’t know about other countries, but when I was a secret shopper and did the McDonald’s shops, the quality of the food was just one of the many things we were required to take note of (taste, temperature, condiments applied to food). We also had to take note of how long we had to wait in line, how long it took them to take our order, how long it took to get our order, was everything in the order, was the restroom clean, was the restaurant clean, was the parking lot clean, what about signage, how were we greeted, were we asked if we wanted condiments (if applicable), and the list goes on and on.
    So if he was tasting all of the food, from a secret shopper perspective, there really wasn’t any reason for him to do that. I mean really, the food is mass-produced, cooked in a microwave, on a grill, or in a deep-fat fryer – not too many ways you can screw it up so that the flavor is unpalatable. It’s fast food, it’s not a gourmet meal, and secret shoppers know this when they go out. They evaluate the food based on how it’s supposed to taste, compared to other fast food they’ve eaten, and the food they’ve eaten at that particular franchise in the past.
    For him to have won a lawsuit based on gaining weight because he felt he had to taste all of the food to be sure it passed muster with secret shoppers and therefore ate more than he normally would does not make sense. As Sarah said, gaining weight is more difficult than it seems, and if it was just from eating the food at McDonald’s, then if he quit eating the food, his weight should go back to normal (if he followed the pattern of the men in the Ancel Keyes starvation study).

  4. Twistie / Nov 4 2010 12:36 pm

    As much as I hate Micky D’s, I’m with Sarah. This guy could have gained weight in dozens of different ways that have nothing to do with the food at his place of business, not to mention eating lunch there most days (as restaurant employees so often do) ought to have been sufficient to cover any question of quality control. Just eat a different meal every day or, as Sarah suggested, take a little bite here, a little bite there. You don’t even have to swallow to tell if the food is up to standard.

    In short, this suit strikes me as blame-mongering rather than justice.

    After all, I started life as a skinny kid. I became a skinny teenager. But in my mid twenties, I suddenly started gaining weight. Yeah, turns out that’s how it works on my father’s side of the family. You know, the one I took after in so many other ways, too. And as Sarah noted, there are plenty of medical conditions and medications that cause weight gain. Heck, even if the guy had started working out more, he might have gained weight through his exercise regimen. It happens, as the muscles pack on.

  5. April / Nov 14 2010 11:17 pm

    Okay, so he felt obligated to sample his food. Couldn’t he have stopped after a bite of each thing? Did he have to eat it all?

    Also, people gain weight as they age. That’s part of life. Since he gained about 5 lbs a year (based on your next post), that just sounds like he didn’t exercise enough. C’est la vie.

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