British hot coffee: Bogle v. McDonald’s

If you can stand one more post about the McDonald’s coffee case, this 2002 opinion in the High Court of Justice, Queens Bench Division, is extraordinarily sensible. Most notably, coffee served at 65 C (a mere 150 degrees Fahrenheit), will cause a full-thickness burn in 2 seconds, so the court rejected the claim that McDonald’s could have avoided injury by serving not-so-hot coffee, refuting the claims regularly made by the plaintiffs’ bar that a few degrees’ difference could have avoided injury. (Bogle v. McDonald’s Restaurants Ltd., Neutral Citation [2002] EWHC 490 (QB), Case No: HQ0005713.)


  • If this submission be right, McDonald’s should not have served drinks at any temperature which would have caused a bad scalding injury. The evidence is that tea or coffee served at a temperature of 65 C will cause a deep thickness burn if it is in contact with the skin for just two seconds. Thus, if McDonald’s were going to avoid the risk of injury by a deep thickness burn they would have had to have served tea and coffee at between 55 C and 60 C. But tea ought to be brewed with boiling water if it is to give its best flavour and coffee ought to be brewed at between 85 C and 95 C.

    Clearly, Justice Field was influenced by his penchant for properly-brewed tea.

  • Soon, McDonald’s will stop serving hot beverages. They will only offer soft drinks. Then, they will take even more blame for causing obesity.

  • It gets worse. too cold drinks (and foods) may cause frostbite.