Wednesday, 30. July 2014
14. 05. 14. - 16:00
A hygiene scandal which forced Burger King restaurants in Germany to close and cost the company millions has taken a strange twist after it emerged that the reporter took lucrative contracts from rival McDonald's.
Award winning investigative journalist Gunter Wallraff, 71, highlighted the hygiene failures and poor working conditions in a Burger King restaurant for a TV documentary.
And last week he joined protesters outside a Burger King in Germany telling people that McDonald's had for years had better standards.
But now German magazine Spiegel has revealed that Wallraff had been paid thousands of euros in the past by rivals McDonald's for speaking engagements.
Wallraff denies the payments had anything to do with the current Burger King scandal, and claimed in any case that the money had gone to a trust that he operated.
Wallraff said: "I have spoken twice at McDonald's events for which money was paid. But on both occasions I never defended McDonald's and spoke out against fast food restaurant culture.
"I do not see anything underhand with what I have done."
Spiegel found two payments by McDonald's to Wallraff totalling 8,000 Euros (6,500 GBP). he had also appeared in a training video for the firm that was eventually not used.
But even if the Wallraff documentary was not part of a plan to hit the McDonald's rivals, it worked.
The boss of Burger King Germany Andreas Bork admitted: "It’s hit us hard,"
"We’re seeing revenue losses in many German branches. We have introduced changes now so that we are really careful, we can even trace the cow that the meat has come from. For example, in the Whopper I ate at the start of the week the meat came from a cow [called] Bulli from Allgau."
The undercover television programme broadcast on German TV station RTL showed Burger Kings run by a franchise called Yi-Ko Holding were ignoring the chain’s own hygiene rules.
Food was left out in the kitchen for more than eight hours, perishable goods were relabelled when they were past their sell-by date and meat was not "fresh from the grill", RTL reported.
Yi-Ko Holdings runs 91 of Germany’s 671 Burger Kings, but the fallout has hit the chain nationwide, Bork said. He told Bild that "many well-run restaurants" had been affected.
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