McDonald's - are we still lovin' it?

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 26 July, 2014, 4:09am
UPDATED : Saturday, 26 July, 2014, 4:57am

The fast-food giant has taken several popular items off its menu after it admitted on Thursday to having imported goods from Shanghai Husi, the mainland food processing plant that allegedly repackaged rotten meat for sale. We ask people outside a Causeway Bay branch for their views on the food scandal


Irene Racho, 29, nanny:

"I think I will steer clear of McDonald's in the future. This has affected my confidence."

Winnie Cheung Lai-hing, 32, marketing worker:


"I eat there only about once a year. It's unhealthy anyway. This scandal isn't really going to affect my habits."

Alice Chan, 62, retiree:

"I occasionally eat McDonald's, but, for now, I won't. I'm worried; the government should carry out checks before the food is put on sale."

Ryan Wong, 18, student:

"I eat McDonald's about twice a week. I've heard it was selling [expired meat] so I'm eating at McCafe instead. I'm not very worried. I don't think it's a big deal unless I get sick. I think the government should do more to protect us ... but I think that after this, they will change."

Stephen Knight, 58, shipping executive:

"I'm not worried - I won't be going there any more or less frequently. I thought about [the scandal] when I came [to McDonald's] today, but at the end of the day, I think it's fine. Hopefully there will be a big improvement in their safety standards after being exposed."

Hui Wing-chiu, 59, driver:

"I'll need to think before I eat there in the future. I'm just scared other foods will also have problems."

Ho Chun-eong, 26, clerk:

"I'm not concerned; it's a problem only if you eat it a lot. I eat it about once a week, mostly for breakfast. I'll still eat at McDonald's, but not the affected food. I mean, we have to eat, right?"

Jenny Cheng Yuping, 19, student visiting from Shanghai:

"I won't eat McDonald's now, but maybe later if they promise to do better. A good government would make sure that its citizens are eating safe food."

Wong Chun-ho, 35, production worker:

"I've eaten McDonald's for so long - once or twice a week for 30 years - so I'm not concerned. I knew about the scandal today, but I still bought a burger - I might eat a little less ... but I'm not so worried."

Alice Tong Po-mui, housewife in her 50s:

"Of course I'm scared - kids eat McDonald's; they start young and continue to when they are old. I don't normally buy it for [my children] because it's not too healthy, but I definitely won't now. I'm also scared that other chains like KFC have problems."

Serving Hongkongers for the best part of 40 years

At the sight of the ubiquitous yellow "M", two children jump up and down and rush to the entrance of the McDonald's restaurant.

The scene in Causeway Bay yesterday was not new. Since its first foray into the local market nearly 40 years ago, McDonald's has become one of the city's most popular fast-food chains, just as in other cities across the world. It operates 239 restaurants in Hong Kong and employs more than 15,000 people.

On Thursday night, the chain found itself drawn into a scandal, suspending sales of items including chicken McNuggets after it admitted to having bought pork and chicken from a Shanghai food processing plant exposed for selling rotten meat. Yet despite the scandal, the restaurants teemed with customers yesterday.

The turnout was, perhaps, testament to the chain's fame in Hong Kong.

The brand was brought to the city in 1975 by the late Kenneth Fung Ping-fan, son of Bank of East Asia co-founder Fung Ping-shan. He opened a 3,000 sq ft flagship on Paterson Street, Causeway Bay, with a grand opening attended by American consul general Charles Cross.

While that outlet is now closed, a McDonald's still operates over the road on Yee Wo Street - doubtless paying far more than the HK$64,500 per month rent on the first branch.

McDonald's opened its first Kowloon store a year later and branched out into the New Territories in 1978, continuing its slow growth across the then-colony.

The restaurants enjoyed rapid success.

In 1981, the Yue Man Square restaurant in Kwun Tong broke the world record for daily transactions at a McDonald's outlet. In 1989, its branch in New Town Plaza, Sha Tin, enjoyed 2.5 million sales in a year.

In 1992, Hong Kong could boast seven of the world's 10 busiest McDonald's branches.

The chain's sheer ubiquity had heightened concern about the impact of the food scandal.

"There are so many McDonalds branches in Hong Kong - a scandal could affect a lot of Hong Kong people," Frankie Wong, a 27-year-old interior designer, said.

The chain is no stranger to bad press. In 2012, media reports revealed a supplier had fed poultry excessive amounts of antibiotics. In September 2,000, labour activists revealed that one of its toy suppliers used child labour across the border in Shenzhen.

While not as common as it is in Hong Kong, McDonald's has built a strong presence on the mainland, opening 2,000 restaurants in 26 provinces since its first branch opened in Shenzhen in 1990.

Worldwide, the chain operates about 33,500 restaurants in 119 countries, serving 70 million people daily, all passing - just like those in Causeway Bay - under its "Golden Arches".