LONDON (CNNfn) - McDonald's said Tuesday it was too early to see any impact on sales after a cow suspected of being infected with mad-cow disease was found at its Italian meat supplier.|
Final tests on the cow found Saturday in the Gruppo Cremonini slaughterhouse in the northern Italian town of Lodi were expected later Tuesday. Cremonini supplies meat to the U.S. fast food chain in Italy, but the plant where the suspect cow was found is not one of its plants that supplies McDonald's, spokeswoman Alessandra di Montezemolo told CNNfn.com.
The latest development in the so-called mad-cow disease scare, which already has cut into McDonald's 2000 profit according to a report, could dampen consumer appetite for beef even more.
McDonald's di Montezemolo said that since the recent increase in infected cows found in France, customers in Italy, which imports a lot of meat from its European neighbor, were shifting from beef to chicken.
But she insisted that shift hadn't affected sales so far.
"Sales are fine, through Sunday," she said. Information on sales since the suspect cow was found were unavailable, she said.
Last month, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that mad-cow concerns and the weak euro would trim McDonald's profit in 2000 to an increase of 10 percent to 11 percent, from the 10 percent to 15 percent gain the company expected.
Di Montezemolo declined to comment on the report.
McDonald's (MCD: Research, Estimates) stock closed at $33.62 Friday, up 94 cents. U.S. markets were closed Monday for a public holiday.
The suspected case was the first reported in Italy since 1994, when two infected cows imported from Britain were found. Mad-cow is the common name for bovine spongiform encephalopathy, the brain-wasting ailment that scientists believe was spread by recycling meat and bone meal from infected animals back into cattle feed.
-- from staff and wire reports