At the McDonald’s annual shareholder meeting this week, a 9-year-old girl took company CEO Don Thompson to task for continuing to serve unhealthy food, frequently to children.
Her comments, via USA Today:
“There are things in life that aren’t fair — like when your pet dies,” Hannah said. “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 ended by saying, “Mr. Thompson, don’t you want kids to be healthy so they can live a long and healthy life?”
The CEO’s response? “We don’t sell junk food,” he said. “My kids also eat McDonald’s.”
He said that like other parents, he serves lots of fruits and veggies at home, and noted that McDonald’s has stepped up its healthier offerings.
The back-and-forth exemplifies the core perception problem McDonald’s has among young people.
Despite adding health-conscious items like smoothies, an egg-white breakfast sandwich, and Chicken McWraps to its menu, people don’t think of healthy options when they see the “golden arches.” They think of Big Macs and french fries.
It’s an awkward situation for the company, where sales are down overall. McDonald’s blames an uncertain economy and customer service problems. Adding new, healthier items and marketing them aggressively might mean longer waits overall, driving away core customers.
And at the same time it’s promoting a healthier image, McDonald’s also just released its most caloric offering ever, in Japan: The 1,142-calorie Mega Potato consists of nearly one pound of french fries.