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A notice posted on the door to my local McDonalds announced that it, as a corporation, "supports" the FDA's latest contamination scare regarding tomatoes and salmonella, and as a result they have "voluntarily" and "temporarily" stopped serving them on sandwiches that formerly contained them. This is "temporary" only in the same sense that all other earthly things are temporary. They will never return.

You may remember a year or so ago, when scallions vanished from the ingredient list at Taco Bell and salad bars across the land. Another bacterial scare was the stated reason. Of course, they have not returned. It turns out that scallions were not the cause of this alleged outbreak of food poisoning. Lettuce might have been. But lettuce is cheap, and a relative staple. Of course, the scallions have not returned.

Of course, when you go grocery shopping you will discover that as vegetables go, green onions are costly. They are limited in season, and therefore have to be shipped from all over the world or grown in greenhouses. A salad bar where diners are invited to eat their fill of green onions as freely as they could gorge on lettuce has a lower profit margin. Something had to be done. Voilà! E. Coli to the rescue!

Tomatoes are even more famous for the logistics of packing, storing, and ripening them. The firm, flavorless McDonalds tomato, specially bred to preserve its shape while being sliced thin, is a fairly high ticket item to produce. They are picked green, and reddened, not necessarily ripened, by exposure to ethylene gas.

A health scare involving tomatoes is good for the bottom line in a time of rising transportation costs. It helps accustom the customer base to the loss of a product feature liked by many. Their motives are literally unquestionable. After all, McDonalds is only looking out for your health.


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December 2016

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