Squawk! Our Tax Dollars Help McDonald’s Hawk ‘Chicken’ in Europe


The poor French. There they were, with their low-rent bistros slinging brie-filled crepes, soupe a l’oignon and coq au vin when all the populace really wanted was rectangular food-like objects that taste vaguely of chicken, and a side of corn syrup dipping sauce.

But then the good ol’ U S of A came to the rescue! The American government graciously provided a struggling business called McDonald’s with $465,000 to promote Chicken McNuggets abroad.

That’s right, your tax dollars brought the culinary masterpiece that is Chicken McNuggets to Europe through the Market Access Program, which uses public funding to help U.S. industries promote their products overseas. McDonald’s qualified to receive nearly half a million dollars through the Poultry and Egg Council to promote a product that has no less than 40 ingredients, only one of which is chicken (even in the new, less filler-packed recipe).

The fast food giant only made $985.5 million in profits last year. How can we possibly expect them to continue their quest for world domination without some government funding?

The $465,000 figure comes from a book by Jonathan Rauch called Government’s End: Why Washington Stopped Working, which details the vice grip that special interest groups have on the American government. The book is 10 years old, and it’s tough to discern whether McDonald’s has received any more taxpayer funds, though the program does put a five-year limit (not necessarily consecutive) on promotional assistance for branded products.

What could that $465,000 done if it hadn’t gone to McDonald’s? Built a playground in an underprivileged neighborhood, or injected some healthier foods into school lunches? It’s not as if Europeans are any better off for the U.S. factory-farmed chicken, modified food starch and Dimethylpolysiloxane added to their diets.

Photo: basykes

Stephanie Rogers

Stephanie Rogers currently resides in North Carolina where she covers a variety of green topics, from sustainability to food.