I would say that had a lot to do with expediency on McDonald’s part. Just a few years earlier, they had finished fighting the longest legal battle in British history - the famous McLibel trial. They sued a number of activists individually in court for collectively creating and distributing a leaflet in 1986 called “What’s Wrong With McDonalds?”, listing pretty much everything you’d expect such a leaflet to list.
Most of the activists did what McDonalds expected, which was to issue a formal public apology for their actions, an allowed settlement under British law at the time. Two of the activists refused, and managed to scare up enough resources to defend themselves in court.
The case was ultimately a McDonalds victory, in that in 1997 the judge (it ended up not being a jury trial) decided the defendants had not provided sufficient evidence to back up their claims against McDonald’s regarding rainforest destruction, heart disease and cancer, food poisoning, starvation in the Third World and bad working conditions.
However, the judge found that the activist HAD proven their case regarding the claims in the leaflet that McDonalds’ advertising exploits children and gives a false impression of their food as nutritious, that the company risks the health of its most regular, long-term customers, that they responsible for cruelty to animals, and that they are opposed to unions and pay their workers low wages. McD’s obviously spent a lot more than the 60,000 pounds awarded to them in fighting this battle only to be delivered such a Pyrrhic victory.
As if that weren’t enough, the defendants appealed, and in 1999 the appeals court overturned the lower court’s decisions in McDonalds’ favor regarding heart disease risk and poor working conditions, so Ronald was on the hook for those, as well.
So if you were McDonalds, having spent a small fortune for this result, and a filmmaker comes along and eats McDonalds all day everyday (which, let’s face it, is what McD’ s advertising pretty much suggests would be a fine idea) and has actual doctors declaring him to be monumentally unhealthy after a month of this, what would you do?