Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
If you’re running a fast food chain, product quality is very important.
Basic hygiene, though, is crucial.
Please ask Chipotle, whose brand image has taken a severe hit after more than one apparent outbreak of foodborn illnesses.
Imagine, then, what customers in India must be feeling on hearing McDonald’s claim that it has no idea what’s being dished up at 169 of its restaurants in that country.
That’s around 40 percent of all its Indian restaurants.
This all revolves around a disagreement with the burger chain’s first Indian business partner, Connaught Plaza Restaurants, one that began in 2013. McDonald’s is now trying to end the franchise agreement with Connaught.
But what of the disturbing idea that food safety may be at stake?
McDonald’s India offered these troubling words to the Times of India: “Since the termination of the franchise agreement, MIPL [McDonald’s India] has not been able to verify if the unauthorized McDonald’s restaurants operated by CPRL in north and east India are complying with applicable McDonald’s standards, including those pertaining to supplies, operations and safety standards, and quality required for McDonald’s products.”
That doesn’t sound edifying.
It’s not often that a global corporation suddenly comes out and declares: “Hey, we’ve got no idea what they’re serving at our restaurants.”
Perhaps more should.
Those of jaded spirit, however, might fear this is a ploy to attack the image of a franchisee with whom McDonald’s is in dispute.
It seems, you see, that the contretemps may have something to do with Connaught’s choice of logistics partner.
However, Connaught’s CEO Vikram Bakshi sounds highly bullish.
He told the Times of India that it’s “ironic that the conscience of McDonald’s has suddenly awakened to quality and food safety in India, when for the past four years, CPRL has been bringing to their attention, including their CEO, Steve Easterbrook, issues of the same, without extracting a single response or visit from them.”
Bakshi also accused McDonald’s of missing board meetings.
I contacted McDonald’s to ask whether it really believed that vast numbers of its Indian customers are at risk.
I will update, should a reply arrive.
The question, of course, is whether this stoking of food hygiene fears in India might have some effect on the McDonald’s brand as a whole.
The company has just launched its revitalized Dollar Menu in the U.S. It surely doesn’t need these sorts of distractions.
Of course, if hundreds of people in India suddenly began to fall ill after eating at McDonald’s, this might reverberate on the global brand.
Until then, many may feel this is just a local business dispute that’s been going on a little too long.