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UN: Health Activists Ask UNICEF to Dump McDonald's

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  • Pamela Rice
    URL: http://www.corpwatch.org/news/PND.jsp?articleid=3349 UN: Health Activists Ask UNICEF to Dump McDonald s By Jim Lobe, OneWorld US, August 1, 2002 An
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 5, 2002
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      URL: http://www.corpwatch.org/news/PND.jsp?articleid=3349
      UN: Health Activists Ask UNICEF to Dump McDonald's
      By Jim Lobe, OneWorld US, August 1, 2002

      An international coalition of public-health professionals and
      activists has asked the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) to
      stop "lending its good name and endorsement to McDonald's" and cancel
      its participation with the fast-food giant in 'World Children's Day'
      on November 20.

      The request, which came in the form of a letter sent Wednesday to
      UNICEF's executive director, Carol Bellamy, charged that McDonald's
      "is a global leader in the marketing of junk food that is creating
      soaring rates of childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes, and that is
      disrupting traditional ways of food preparation in families and
      cultures."

      "It is truly a challenge to see how this partnership with McDonald's
      is consistent with UNICEF's claim to promote 'good nutrition' to the
      world's children," according to the letter, which was signed by some
      75 public-health and consumer advocates, including Jill Claybrook,
      the head of Public Citizen, several board members of Physicians for
      Social Responsibility, and Michael Jacobsen, executive director of
      the Center for Science in Public Interest.

      UNICEF and McDonald's announced on July 19, 'World Children's Day' to
      benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) and UNICEF programs in
      a dozen countries. RMHC has awarded more than US$320 million in
      grants for children's health over the past two decades, including $5
      million to UNICEF last year for the agency's maternal and neonatal
      tetanus programs in 57 countries.

      McDonald's Chairman, Jack Greenberg, met with U.N. Secretary-General
      Kofi Annan, who has strongly encouraged such "public-private
      partnerships" to support children and other global initiatives.

      On November 20--the anniversary of the U.N. adoption of the
      Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989--McDonald's 30,000
      restaurants in 121 countries are supposed to organize activities and
      promotions designed to raise money and public support for local
      children's organizations, as well as RMHC and UNICEF operations.

      Among examples cited by McDonald's will be the distribution in
      October of 20 million traditional orange "Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF"
      collection boxes for U.S. children who go door-to-door on Halloween.
      In China, the two sponsors will run the country's first-ever online
      concert, access to which will be given away to customers who buy a
      Big Mac on November 20. A portion of the sales will go to UNICEF.

      But the letter, which was organized by Portland Oregon-based
      Commercial Alert, argues that the U.N. agency, whose main purpose is
      to promote children's health and well-being, should not be seen as
      endorsing McDonalds' operations.

      "McDonald's," according to the letter, "is responsible for
      multi-million dollar ad campaigns that prod children to nag, whine
      and throw tantrums so that their parents will consent to buy them
      junk food."

      "It is not the proper role of UNICEF to endorse or serve as enabler
      for corporate activities of this kind," the letter declares.

      The fast-food restaurant chain, the world's largest by far, serves
      some 46 million people daily around the world. Its "golden arches"
      are one of the world's most recognized commercial logos.

      Speaking about the fundraising event on Thursday, McDonald's
      spokesperson Lisa Howard said that the company's only objective is to
      help children, citing 50 years of giving back to communities and
      working with numerous organizations in support of families and
      children everywhere.

      Howard also added that Commercial Alert's criticism of the
      unhealthiness of McDonald's food was unfounded.

      "We provide a full menu of choice and variety, and serve wholesome
      and nutritious options--chicken, bread, potatoes, beef, salad, milk,
      juice and other basic foods that come from many of the same trusted
      suppliers that stock grocery store shelves and home pantries.
      Unfortunately this group is absolutely ignorant about our principles,
      and our long-standing commitment to the health and well-being of
      children," she said.

      Telephone requests by OneWorld for comment by UNICEF were not returned.

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