"A combination of factors has led us to re-evaluate, and we've directed the vendor to take down the website," the company said in a statement. "Between links to irrelevant or outdated information, along with outside groups taking elements out of context, this created unwarranted scrutiny and inappropriate commentary. None of this helps our McDonald's team members."
The website, which was intended to provide helpful work-life advice to employees, currently reads: "We'll Be Back Soon! We are temporarily performing some maintenance in order to provide you with the best experience possible. Please excuse us while these upgrades are being made."
One of the posts that prompted the shutdown compared a picture of a cheeseburger, fries (in familiar, yet non-descript red wrapping) and a Coke, next to a glass of water, a salad and a sub. The cheeseburger was labeled the "unhealthy choice," whereas the sandwich was labeled the "healthier choice."
Another post on the site read: "Fast foods are quick, reasonably priced and readily available alternatives to home cooking. While convenient and economical for a busy lifestyle, fast foods are typically high in calories, fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt and may put people at risk for becoming overweight."
The content was created by a third party called A.D.A.M. Inc., an arm of Ebix, a company that supplies software and e-commerce products to the insurance industry. On Ebix's website, A.D.A.M is described as "the most credible source of healthcare information and multimedia visual learning assets for hospitals and healthcare organizations."
The company has been criticized before for featuring apparently tone-deaf or out-of-touch content on the website. In July, a sample budget was posted that included lines for incomes from two jobs, suggesting that being singularly employed by McDonald's was not enough to pay the bills. The budget also did not account for gas or groceries.
In November, the site posted a tipping guide with advice from etiquette expert Emily Post. The list included suggestions for appropriate year-end tips for au pairs, dog walkers and housekeepers -- workers who often make minimum wage, but who would most likely not be in the employ of fast-food workers who earn minimum wage themselves.