Why Do Hospitals Carry Fast Food In Their Cafeterias?
April 11, 2012

Why Do Hospitals Carry Fast Food In Their Cafeterias?

Corporate Accountability International, an advocacy group that challenges corporate abuse and fights for corporate accountability to public interests, is leading a larger campaign to persuade McDonald´s and other fast food outlets from marketing unhealthy food to kids.

Specifically, the group is seeking the removal of such chains from operating inside of hospitals, many of which operate next to hospital cafeterias. That effort has been endorsed by nearly 2,000 health professionals, some of which work at the very hospitals still housing the fast food giant, says campaign director Sara Deon.

“Dear Hospital Administrator,” Deon´s open letter to hospital administrators begins, “On behalf of thousands of health professionals who work daily to improve public health and who have joined the Value [the] Meal campaign, we are calling on you to help curb the epidemic of diet-related disease and to stop fostering a food environment that promotes harm, not health.”

“We urge you to end your contract with McDonald´s and to take action to remove the McDonald´s restaurant from your hospital.

Doctors at prestigious Cleveland Clinic tried to oust McDonald´s in 2005, however it is still there, even though one of the doctors who led the effort is now the hospital´s CEO. In many cases, long-term contracts keep unwelcome food vendors in place.

McDonald´s claims a remaining 27 outlets in hospitals that offer balanced choices, “Today, we offer more variety than ever in our menu and we trust that our customers will make the appropriate choices for them, their families and lifestyles.”

Deon continues in her letter to call out McDonald´s, “It´s really no surprise McDonald´s sites stores in hospitals. After all, for decades, McDonald´s has attempted to co-opt the health community, to deflect blame for the epidemic of disease that it has helped drive, and to pose itself as part of the solution.”

“Yet, as a key decision maker at your hospital, you understand the need for cultivating healthier communities and better food environments. Our children, the medical community, and our health care system will benefit from your leadership on this issue.”

The country´s largest seller of hamburgers isn´t the only seller of fatty, salty or sugary in care facilities. Pizza Hut, Subway, Chick-fil-A, Starbucks and other chains have in-hospital outlets.

A review by the vegan advocacy group Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine found several hospitals that gave space to multiple fast food outlets and also had staff cooks serving such dishes as fried chicken and country-fried steaks in their own cafeterias.

Deon admits her group is picking on McDonald´s because it is big: “They profit most and they lead the way.” However she does not let hospital administrators off lightly.

“Every day, parents, children, and health professionals turn to your institution for advice on well-being, for support in preventing and treating illness, and for sustaining a healthy community,” Deon continues.

“As a hospital, you serve as a local authority on health, and as such, the community you serve looks to you and to your environment as a guide for their well-being.”