This week, during McDonald’s annual shareholders meeting, McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson fielded a question about nutrition from a 9-year-old girl.
The girl, who identified herself as Hannah, took issue with the famous fast food company selling food that isn’t good for children using “toys and cartoon characters.” She claims that children her age are suffering from obesity and diabetes, and ends her statement with the question, “Mr. Thompson, don’t you want kids to be healthy so they can live a happy life?”
Sure, it’s a loaded question. One she was no doubt coached into asking by adults who used her as a sympathetic prop. However, Thompson’s answer shows that he may not have been prepared to fend off such a question at the shareholder’s meeting.
Thompson begins his answer by saying, “First off, we don’t sell junk food Hannah.” With junk food generally defined as food with low nutritional value, Thompson’s statement implies that all of McDonald’s food has at least a better-than-low nutritional value.
Thompson goes on to provide a personal anecdote, stating that his children eat McDonald’s, but that they also cook “foods and veggies” at home. He points out that McDonald’s sells apples and salads, and says that the company will try to provide products like kiwi-on-a-stick and pineapple in the future. Thompson’s response, in full:
Hannah, thank you very much for your question and by the way it’s good to meet you upfront. Couple of things Hanna. First off, we don’t sell junk food, Hannah. My kids also eat McDonald’s, when they were about your size to my son who is with us was a little bit bigger – he was a football player – and also they cook with me at home. I love to cook, we cook a lot of foods and veggies at home. We serve a lot of foods and veggies at McDonald’s and are trying to sell even more with the apples that we introduced into the Happy Meal. We serve different foods and different variety. I was telling you a little bit earlier about things we would like to introduce even more, there is a affinity for them, like kiwi on a stick and pineapples, and we serve salads ,and we serve those for a dollar on the Dollar Menu and they are very affordable. And so there’s a lot of things that we’ve done, our chicken nugget happy meals, fat free milk, both. We also just changed the chocolate factory milk. We are making a lot of changes at McDonald’s and we will continue to. I think it’s really great that you want to continue eating more fruits and more vegetables. I honestly hope even more kids do. I know that as my kids came up sometimes I had to nudge them a little bit more to eat some more fruits and vegetables, but they did eat quite a bit of fruits and vegetables and that’s what we served in our household as well. So thanks so much for the question. Next question?