One of the things we have seen a growing trend and interest in especially public relations and crisis communications has surrounded the issue of food safety. This was actually an area where I have done some work in and was one of the primary focuses of my dissertation at the University of Tennessee.
McDonalds in Australia has launched a new app called “TrackMyMacca,” which gives the power to the user to figure out not only where their food product from the fast food giant came from, but the ingredients specifically. The app features augmented reality technology features and allows users to also share with their networks how they are using the app to track their food items via their smartphone.
This was actually one thing my focus group members said about their growing concerns related to food safety and eating out. It was not necessary specific foods that concerned them, but the specific ingredients that are part of the what makes up the particular food item (ex. cheese for pizza for example).
What this app offers is pretty interesting and impressive. Combining data with GPS location technology and even augmented reality, it shows that consumers want to have information ready for them to have on the go at any given time. In addition, it does raise the awareness and presence of augmented reality technologies, which is considered to be one of the emerging trends from last year that will continue to grow in 2013.
McDonalds is also using this opportunity to go behind the scenes to show their consumers how their food is transported and created behind the scenes. While this is good to have especially for those that are concerned about the issue of food safety after recent events involving KFC as Melissa Agnes discussed in her latest blog post, we have to also look at the challenges and risks that are associated with these behind-the-scence features. What about the issue of bioterrorism and how this information can be used? What about the risk of someone hacking into this app to provide false information related to the product?
As crisis communicators, we have to make sure that security measures and discussion of possible scenarios that could be involve with this new feature are also addressed along with these opportunities and benefits. In summary, McDonalds has created a very unique app that will allow users to get more information about their food products using emerging mobile technologies. This is indeed cutting edge and innovative, but we have to look at the implications of this app and what additional challenges and risks this could bring to the table for public relations and crisis communication professionals.
Hope you all are having a great day.