New Scientist has printed an interview with Harvey Anderson, a Canadian nutrition and obesity researcher hired by McDonald’s to (ostensibly) reform its food. The article is subscription-only, but has been reproduced at the University of Toronto. The key phrase is in the introduction (emphasis mine):
…McDonald’s began fighting back. In 2003 – in what will sound to some a deeply ironic gesture – it set up the Global Advisory Council on Healthy Lifestyles. Its role was to reform McDonald’s from within and make the company look like it was taking the global obesity epidemic seriously.
It’s certainly plausible for McDonald’s to change its ways. After all, they are going to sell whatever people want to buy. If that’s healthy food, they’ll sell healthy food. The irritating thing about this interview is that a supposedly impartial and objective scientist sounds like he’s working for the McDonald’s PR department. Although his arguments are mainly sound (he is a professor after all), the whole interview is peppered with advertisments for McDonald’s products – if I didn’t know better, I’d say he was working on commission.