McDonald's is censured over french fries advert

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The McDonald's chain was censured by the advertising watchdog yesterday for making "misleading" claims about the origins of its french fries.

The offending advert featured a photograph of a potato in a McDonald's box below the headline "The story of our fries (end of story)." The advert claimed that the company's method of transforming potatoes into chips was very simple: "We peel them, slice them, fry them and that's it."

But the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received a number of complaints saying that the poster's message had omitted some less savoury parts of the production process. They included a claim that the fries were part-cooked in beef tallow, frozen, flown around the world and fried again. Other complaints said the fries contained "significant amounts of salt" and a dextrose sugar solution at certain times of the year.

In its defence, McDonald's said the advert was to show its fries were made from real, not reconstituted, potato and was "not intended to be a literal and comprehensive statement of all the processes involved". It explained that beef tallow had not been used in the UK since 1993 and that the "par-frying and freezing processes" were common in the fast-food industry.

The chain told the ASA that salt was added just before serving and that a low-concentrate dextrose solution was added for "colour consistency".

But the ASA ruled that most people would assume the advert was describing the whole process of producing the fries as it contained the words "end of story" and "that's it". It described the advert as "misleading" and told McDonald's not to use the same approach again.