Special sauce in sesame seed buns: Legal strategy and public policy in the fast-food industry

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

SAGE Business Cases



Place of Publication

United States


School of Business and Law




Lee, A., & Lambert, C. (2016). Special sauce in sesame seed buns: Legal strategy and public policy in the fast-food industry. Sage Business Cases. Available here.


Case Learning Outcomes This case should increase your appreciation and knowledge of:

• the legal aspect of public health issues that stem from food standards and the chain-store retail food business;
• the importance of disclosures about food product ingredients and potential side effects from overuse of food;
• how an industry's history and origins influence the legal issues that arise in the industry and the way rulings in legal cases (precedents) change the way the industry operates; and
• the importance of identifying where a contentious policy/legal issue lies in the cycle of social and legal frontiers and bases.

Introduction “Something important, if you have a few minutes please?” Lord Cahill's voice came over the telephone. “Be right over”, Lewis Bertly replied. The senior partner walked 37 steps to Lord Cahill's corner office at LL&B Law, a firm seemingly as old as the law. Bertly was one of the best lawyers in the world specializing in the fast-food sector. “Lewis, I have a case for you. We are one of five firms defending McDonald's against prospective legislation to put warning labels on fast-food packaging. We need to prepare a case to stop Australia's Department of Health from mandating health warnings on fast-food packages. They want this after their new attorney general managed to foist plain packages on cigarette producers. Once more McDonald's is the poster child. Here's what they want looked at. Can you have a tentative position by today? Just feelings and such.” Lord Cahill's plump, manicured hand held a memorandum (Figure 1) that contained a list of points issued by the Australian Government.



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