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The Globe and Mail

McDonald's uniform does not include poppies on Remembrance Day

A box of Royal Canadian Legion Poppies for Remembrance Day photographed in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Deborah Baic / The Globe and Mail/Deborah Baic / The Globe and Mail

Does McDonald's really want to be the fast food joint that banned poppies on Remembrance Day? Apparently so.

The restaurant recently put out a statement saying its employees are not allowed to wear poppies at work because the "straight pins pose a potentially serious safety hazard in preparation areas of our restaurants."

The official order was a result of a group of employees at a McDonald's in Lethbridge who complained after being told they had to remove their poppies while at work, but could keep them on their coats. (No word in the statement on whether the fast food chain considered digging into petty cash to supply staff with push pins to secure their poppies.)

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Even the Alberta Health Department defended the poppy-sporting burger flippers: A spokesperson told the Canadians Press that there is no legislation banning the use of pins while working in restaurants.

At the same time, as Garth Whyte, president and CEO of the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association, rightly pointed out, "poppies are notorious for falling off."

"There's a danger it could fall into the food and become a choking hazard," Mr. Whyte said.

Beyond concerns about the symbol of national remembrance befouling Big Macs, the poppy has been the subject of controversy farther afield as well.

In Britain, FIFA – the world governing body for soccer – told English players they couldn't wear the poppy emblem on their jerseys against Spain on Saturday arguing it would "open the door to similar initiatives from all over the world, jeopardizing the neutrality of football." FIFA reversed its decision and allowed players to wear the poppy on their black armbands – but only after Prince William gave them what-for.

How do you view the poppy? Is it a safety hazard? A way to bring politics into sport? Or is it a symbol of remembrance that should get an exception?

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Erin Anderssen writes about mental health, social policy and family issues. More

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