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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Post# 206 - McDonald's: Is a One-Nozzle Milkshake Dispenser a Potential Allergen Problem?

Once in a while, I feel I make a strong argument about something.  It bugs me when they don't take it seriously.  This is my note, sent 8/22/11:
Dear McDonald's, 

Every time I order a shake, which is about three times a year, I've noticed something.  The shake I order tastes like the shake that was ordered before it.

In the old days, you had three shake flavors (four if you had the flavor of the day), and three spigots (again--four if you had the flavor of the day).  Now, you have one spigot and the flavors sort of "shoot" into the vanilla base. 

The problem is, if Customer A orders Chocolate, and Customer B orders Strawberry, there's still chocolate shake in the system that finds itself in the bottom of Customer B's cup.  And now that you've copied Arby's and gone to the smaller "transparent" cups and raised your prices, the different flavor is clearly visible at the bottom.  If you need a photo, I can provide it.

Furthermore, when Customer B puts the business end of his straw into the shake, what's the first thing he tastes?  Customer A's shake.  What if Customer B orders Strawberry because he is allergic to Chocolate, and Customer A ordered Chocolate, can you see the problem?  Maybe you have a Milkshake Disclaimer somewhere on your menu, but it's counterintuitive to think that one shake could contain two flavors.

I know people who are violently allergic to chocolate.  I also know someone who is allergic to strawberries.  Is there cause for concern there?  There should be, unless there isn't any actual cocoa or strawberries in your shakes.

Do you have an explanation for this, other than the one-spigot system being easier to clean and maintain?  Because to me, it seems like a real concern, and something that should be addressed swiftly and with great might.


Subject: Message from McDonald's USA
Date: Wednesday, August 24, 2011, 5:03 AM

Hello Jerry:

Thank you for taking the time to contact McDonald's.

I appreciate the opportunity to address your concerns. The one-spigot system was intended for convenience. A strict cleaning and sanitation schedule is in place to ensure the highest quality product with minimal chance of cross contamination. I apologize if this has not been your experience.
Again, thank you for contacting McDonald's. We hope to have the opportunity of serving you again soon under the Golden Arches.
McDonald's Customer Response Center

My response, sent 8/24/2011:

Dear Jennifer,

I appreciate your response.  I find it confusing though.  The new-fangled one-nozzle-for-all-flavors system has been in for quite a while now.  I don't order many milkshakes, but I've ordered a few, and at more than one of your restaurants.  I have experienced the two-flavor shake virtually every time.  It's only really noticeable when the person before me ordered chocolate and I order vanilla or strawberry, but with the clear cups now, it's glaringly obvious.

You mention a very strict cleaning and sanitation cycle to minimize the chances of cross-contamination.  Well, wouldn't it have to be VERY strict?  Like "after every milkshake" strict?  Unless you get a busful of chocoholics, you're looking at a cleaning and sanitation cycle after each and every milkshake.  That leads to the question-- if you need to clean and sanitize after each and every milkshake to prevent the possible spreading of allergens, how is that more convenient than three or four nozzles?

My Strawberry Shake with Chocolate Residue From the Customer Before Me.
I recommend you send fifty McHenchmen out to 50 different restaurants, each with $6.  Have each order a chocolate milkshake, and then a vanilla milkshake, in that order.  Have them photograph the bottom of the clear cup with the vanilla milkshake.  Then tell me that you don't have a systemic problem.  I'd be REALLY interested in seeing that photo album.




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