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Child To McDonald's CEO: Stop Tricking Kids Into Eating Your Food

By Anthony Todd in Food on May 24, 2013 3:20PM

Shareholder meetings are always fun, at least for spectators. It's the only time during the year when ordinary people get to interact with the high-powered leaders of major companies, who are normally ensconced in their high rise mansions with their private gold-plated bathrooms. For McDonald's CEO Don Thompson, yesterday was a perfect example of the fun that ensues when all shareholders get to talk.

Huffington Post reports that advocates for healthy eating were in attendance to complain about McDonald's food, marketing policies and relationships with children. One complainant: 9-year-old Hannah Robinson, who had some pointed remarks for Thompson.

Among those was a 9-year-old girl who asked Thompson to stop "tricking kids into eating your food." Specifically, she called out the company's advertising for getting kids to "keep bugging their parents" for the food. The girl's mother echoed the request later on, saying McDonald's undermines parents by marketing to children.

Okay, so the kid was almost certainly coached and probably isn't a huge pusher for proper nutrition. It was still a headline-grabbing move on the part of healthy eating advocates.

McDonald's has had a bumpy ride during the last few weeks. They announced that they were significantly downsizing their menu, getting rid of some of the newer items like Angus burgers and Chicken selects that were attempts to bring in higher-end customers. The menu, which at its peak had 145 items, is being cut down to a core group of dishes, but Thompson insisted that the food was still healthy and that McDonald's didn't go after kids.

Thompson stood by the company's menu, saying McDonald's doesn't "sell junk food," pointing out items such as the yogurt parfait and side salad and noting that the company has been adding more fruits and vegetables. "The way you describe us is not who we are," he said. "We're not predators."

Thompson also defended the company's use of the mascot Ronald McDonald, which some advocates have argued targets children and encourages them to eat unhealthy foods.

"Ronald is not a bad guy - he's about fun, he's a clown," Thompson said. "So I'd ask all you to let your kids have fun, too."