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Last Updated: Friday, 30 May, 2003, 19:06 GMT 20:06 UK
McDonald's sues 'slow food' critic
Edoardo Raspelli
Mr Raspelli refuses to back down
McDonald's has labelled as "defamatory and offensive" an influential Italian food critic, who poured scorn on the quality of the fast-food giant's cuisine.

The corporation has sued Edoardo Raspelli, a critic and commentator for the Italian newspaper La Stampa, after he compared its burgers to rubber and its fries to cardboard, in an article last year.

McDonald's is seeking undisclosed damages, possibly as much as the 21m euros (15m; $25m) it spent on advertising in Italy last year.

Mr Raspelli has refused to back down, telling La Stampa earlier this week that he found fast food "repellent".

"I defamed hamburgers... but I have not insulted anyone," he said.

Fast and slow

The case has aroused enormous interest in Italy, where a powerful "slow-food" movement has emerged in recent years, dedicated to preserving a respect for traditional culinary values.

Mr Raspelli said he had received hundreds of e-mails of support.

McDonald's is, however, hugely popular in the country, feeding 600,000 Italians each day in its 300 local restaurants.

The chain has made huge efforts to persuade customers of the quality of its offerings, and uses many local products.

The court case is proceeding slowly - the judge this week asked Mr Raspelli and McDonald's to seek ways to mend their differences.

"We trust this matter can be resolved out of court and in an amicable way," spokesman Mike Love said.

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