In the wake of the recent scandal where horse meat was found in products sold by several big name UK supermarkets, MacDonald's has today found itself embroiled in controversy involving horses. This time however, it wasn't the burgers that contained the horse but the restaurant itself!
A girl and her friend were out for a hack through the outskirts of Manchester when they decided to stop for a spot of lunch. The golden arches beckoned and the pair queued with motorists at the MacDonald's drive-through in Whitefield, Greater Manchester. Upon reaching the service window however, staff refused to serve them and informed the un-named duo that they were not allowed to bring horses to the service area for "health and safety" reasons. The riders were somewhat taken aback as there have been many well-documented occasions when horse drawn vehicles and mounted riders have been served at MacDonald's.
Unimpressed by the attitude of staff and nonplussed by the rebuttal, one of the riders (who has not yet been named), dismounted, led her horse inside the restaurant and joined the queue at the service counter much to the amusement of other diners and staff. Unfortunately, the horse was clearly somewhat upset by the whole experience and proceeded to deposit a large pile of droppings on the floor! Horrified staff then asked the woman to leave and when she refused to do so, the police were called.
A spokeswoman for MacDonald's said: "The incident caused distress to customers and disruption for the restaurant, and the police issued the woman with a fixed penalty notice."
When asked why the riders were refused service at the drive-through, the spokeswoman added: "The health and safety of our customers and staff is our top priority, and for this reason we are unable to serve pedestrians, bicycle riders or customers on horseback through the drive-thru."
Also commenting on the incident, Greater Manchester Police said: "The sight and smell of this caused obvious distress and upset to customers trying to eat, as well as staff members. Officers arrived at the location and the woman was issued [with] a fixed penalty notice for causing alarm and distress to other customers and staff."
Is this health and safety gone mad? Surely there's no harm in serving a rider in the drive-through? Over the years I've ridden with friends to pubs many times, sat outside in the garden and enjoyed a refreshing drink on a summer's day. No-one refused to serve us. No other customers complained and in fact plenty of people wanted to stroke the horses and chat to us. I've queued at ice cream vans whilst on my horse too with no problem. In fact, one lady actually bought my horse his own ice cream on one occasion!
Perhaps it's a city thing. I live in the countryside and horses are an everyday sight around the lanes here and indeed in the car-park of the local pub and outside our village Co-Op convenience store. Folk are more likely to offer to hold your horse for you than to complain to the local constabulary. All the same, next time I fancy a MacDonalds, I think I'll take the car and leave the horse at home!
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