Fast-food chain McDonald’s has been forced to rethink its latest marketing campaign for Swiss-themed hamburgers after it was revealed that the labelling of the cheese included in its Simmental Prime was not legal.
In advertisements broadcast on Swiss television, the company stated that its special burger contained alpine cheese – Alpkäse in German. This was sufficient to draw the attention of the German-language Agricultural Information Service (LID), a public relations and news service backed by farming associations.
LID’s interest was piqued by the use of the term “alpine”, which is restricted under Swiss law. In this case, it can only describe cheese produced in the mountains with milk from cows spending the summer on alpine pastures.
While McDonald’s did source its beef from Simmental cattle, it purchased its cheese slices from Emmi, Switzerland’s biggest dairy company. The cheese is not produced according to the alpine criteria and cannot carry the label.
When questioned by LID, a McDonald’s spokeswoman said a mistake was made when the company tried to shorten the presentation of its product.
Promotional material on the internet has since been modified while the television ads are being changed, although it could take some time to replace all the videos.
The fast-food giant also apologised for the error.
Bernese Alpkäse benefits from the AOC label, which guarantees that the product was manufactured and processed in its area of origin. This means the milk used comes from a clearly defined region, is made into cheese in that same area, and is aged there until maturity.
It is one of ten types of Swiss cheese benefiting from an AOC label.