FoodFacts.com loves hearing stories about consumers making a real difference in the issues surrounding our food supply. We applaud nutritionally-conscious consumers who speak their mind and make their voices heard. And we especially applaud situations where those voices are coming to us loud and clear from the youngest generations. FoodFacts.com salutes those young people with the strength and courage to make their opinions count at early ages.
Recently, McDonalds CEO Don Thompson had the pleasure of being put on the spot by just such a nutrition-conscious consumer – 9 year-old Hannah Robertson from Oakbrook, Illinois. Hannah’s mom, Kia is a kid’s nutritional activist. She created an interactive children’s nutrition game called “Today I Ate a Rainbow”. Hannah’s apple didn’t fall far from Kia’s tree – Hannah stood up in front of the CEO of one of the wolrd’s biggest brands and gave him a piece of her mind at the McDonald’s annual shareholders meeting.
“There are things in life that aren’t fair — like when your pet dies,” said Hannah, who spoke with great confidence. “I don’t think it’s fair when big companies try to trick kids into eating food. It isn’t fair that so many kids my age are getting sick,” she said — blaming McDonald’s for unfairly targeting kids with advertisements for food that isn’t good for them.
Hannah ended her time-limited comments, made during the meeting’s question-and-answer session, by pointedly but politely asking: “Mr. Thompson, don’t you want kids to be healthy so they can live a long and healthy life?”
Mr. Thompson responded to Hannah, telling her that McDonald’s doesn’t sell junk food and that his own kids eat McDonald’s.
He explained that he, too, watches what his kids eat. “We cook lots of fruits and veggies at home,” he said. He also noted that McDonald’s sells fruits (apple slices in kids meals) and veggies (including side salads on the Dollar Menu). He also said that McDonald’s recently began to sell fat-free chocolate milk. Mr. Thompson thanked Hannah for her comments and told her he thought it was great that she wants to eat more fruits and veggies.
His response to this brave and well spoken young girl was basically a non-response. But sadly for Mr. Thompson the issue of improving childhood nutrition and fighting childhood obesity isn’t going anywhere. And while FoodFacts.com understands that McDonald’s has tried to make changes to improve its menu … well, let’s just say that we’re not quite as concerned about the calorie count of their menu items as we are about what’s lurking in the ingredient lists of said menu items.
So, Mr. Thompson, we think you should listen to Hannah and avoid telling her that your company isn’t selling junk food. We actually think you might want to review the ingredient lists for some of your “healthier” menu items like the Caesar Salad with Grilled Chicken or the Fruit and Maple Oatmeal. Then you should take a look at your company’s most popular children’s offering, Chicken McNuggets. Hannah has a point, Mr. Thompson. We think you should start listening.