Corporate watchdog group: Get rid of hospital McDonald's restaurants

McDonald's
Corporate Accountability International, a corporate watchdog group that has gone after companies such as Coca-Cola, said hospitals shouldn't be letting McDonald's market unhealthy foods in health care facilities.
File photo/Associated Press

Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis is one of 22 hospitals across the country being asked to get rid of its McDonald's restaurant.

Corporate Accountability International, a corporate watchdog group that has gone after companies such as Coca-Cola, said hospitals shouldn't be letting McDonald's market unhealthy foods in health care facilities.

"Children are being treated for diet-related conditions like diabetes on one floor and are offered the world's most recognized junk food brand on the next," said Juliana Shulman, a national campaign organizer for the group.

Shulman said health professionals from across the country have sent letters asking hospital administrators to end their agreements with McDonald's. The concern is that the fast food chain's presence gives patients and visitors the impression that the food on the menu is healthy, she said.

Hospitals in Dallas, Philadelphia and Nashville, Tenn., have gotten rid of their McDonald's restaurants in recent years, Shulman said.

Corporate Accountability International has cited a 2006 study in the journal Pediatrics that found that a McDonald's in a children's hospital was associated with a higher healthy rating by customers.

"Siting McDonald's in hospitals is not just a revenue generator; it's really high-impact marketing," Shulman said. "That hospital is being used as part of McDonald's comprehensive marketing strategy."

But the McDonald's at Abbott Northwestern Hospital won't be moving out anytime soon, hospital officials said.

Abbott has had a McDonald's since 1990 and is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. When the hospital contracted with McDonald's, it was the only vendor willing to negotiate a menu with healthier options, said Abbott Northwestern spokeswoman Gloria O'Connell.

O'Connell said Abbott has a long-term agreement with McDonald's that has a costly buy-out option.

"We understand that some people are concerned about the presence of McDonald's on a hospital campus, but the restaurant solves an ongoing foodservice problem, and we do not believe that buying out the contract would be worth the expense, when balanced against other budgetary needs," O'Connell said in a written statement.

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