Monday, January 21, 2013

DNA as a fast-food tool

Only in the fast-food business can Molten Fudge Bites be big news one week, DNA testing the next.  But, indeed, the revelations coded into genes and chromosomes are landing Burger King and McDonald’s in headlines overseas, though for much different reasons.

The DNA development involving Burger King is the more interesting. That descriptor is used here the way you’d laud a buddy set up on a blind date with your wife’s friend as still having all his teeth. Because in the case of the world’s Number Two fast feeder, DNA testing was used to allay fears that horsemeat wasn’t going into the King’s burgers in Ireland.

Burger King was dragged into a situation where it did nothing wrong and at no time used adulterated ground beef. The controversy was stirred up by one of the chain’s European meat suppliers, some of whose retail burgers were found to have traces of horsemeat. DNA technology exonerated the King and its signature product, though it’s unclear on this side of the Pond if unfounded fears altered customer behavior in any way.

McDonald’s involvement with DNA is more of a hold-your-horses variety. To deter robbers, or catch the ones who go ahead and pull an armed heist, the chain is testing a system in Australian stores that sprays the exiting thief with an organic spray. The marking is invisible to the naked eye, but a special black light reveals DNA markings peculiar to the restaurant that was robbed.

Police can not only find the perpetrator, but connect him or her to a particular restaurant. Cue the Law & Order case-closed sound.

Australia is a long way from the U.S. market, but a number of innovations uncorked at McDonald’s units there have made it to our shores, like the McCafe coffee menu.
And the last time we checked, robberies are still a problem here, too.

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