All it takes is a YouTube video or a scathing revelation in a food blog.
Maybe it’s something out of the fast-food chain’s control — such as an idiot employee filmed doing unhygienic things to pizzas. Maybe it’s a story that highlights that a national sandwich shop’s bread contains “shoe rubber” or “wood pulp” chemicals.
Whatever the assault, the public backlash was tremendous enough for those fast-food company executives to act quickly to fix the problem.
In 2014, Subway’s bread contained "shoe rubber." The chemical azodicarbonamide — which is found in shoe rubber and yoga mats, although the World Health Organization stated that it’s safe for human consumption — was also served as an ingredient in the sandwich shop’s bread as well as a slew of other processed foods. Subway responded by removing the chemical and launching a marketing campaign that directly calls out its bread as new and improved.
In 2012, McDonald’s came under fire for videos showing how the restaurant makes Chicken McNuggets. Since then, the term “pink slime” leaves a visual that few can forget. McDonald’s responded by publishing its own video of how its meat is made and citing transparency as the reasoning.
In 2011, Taco Bell was slapped with a class-action lawsuit stating that its beef contained very little beef at all. The lawsuit was withdrawn months later after Taco Bell made changes to its marketing and product disclosure. Taco Bell responded to the lawsuit by spending $3 million to $4 million for advertising to declare its fillings contain 88% beef.
In 2009, Domino’s Pizza found itself in the middle of a controversy after two employees in one of the chain’s North Carolina shops filmed themselves making sandwiches in ways that violated health code standards. The videos went viral on YouTube, yielding millions of views in a few short days. The employees were arrested for delivering prohibited food, and Domino’s responded with a civil lawsuit. The chain also launched a new marketing campaign featuring employees saying that they care about the customer and want to improve the pizzas.
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