PARIS (Reuters) - McDonald's has apologized for an incident in which workers in one of the U.S. burger chain's French franchises appeared to be threatened with the sack for feeding homeless people.

A photograph circulating on social media showed a notice pinned up at the McDonald's in Hyeres near Marseille in southern France, reading:

"After an incident on July 25th, it is absolutely forbidden to provide food to vagrants, as a reminder, the team's meals should be eaten on the premises. Meals for team members are a personal benefit and are to be enjoyed only by the worker in question."

The notice went on to say: "McDonald's is not in the business of feeding all the hungry people in the land," and concluded: "Any diversion from the procedure cited above will result in sanction that could lead to dismissal."

A statement from McDonald's France said the notice was put up after a "serious incident" involving two homeless people in front of the restaurant in question, and that it was aimed at keeping the premises safe for its customers.

"The process and the formulation was clearly clumsy, the restaurant management quickly removed the notice," the statement said.

"McDonald's and the restaurant apologize to all those who may have been shocked by this notice and state that the brand is dedicated to serving all its clients without discrimination," the statement added.

A spokeswoman declined to say what McDonald's France's policy was on giving away employee meals, and would not elaborate on the statement.

McDonald's has a mixture of directly-owned and franchised outlets in France, the first of which opened in 1979. It has more than 1,200 restaurants across the country employing over 69,000 people.

(Reporting by Andrew Callus; editing by Andrew Roche)