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McDonald’s in Hospitals Targeted by Group Seeking Fast Food End

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April 11 (Bloomberg) -- The Cleveland Clinic in Ohio doesn’t hire smokers, banned trans fats from the food it serves and took sugary soft drinks out of vending machines as part of an effort to emphasize the health in health care. McDonald’s Corp. may be going next.

Corporate Accountability International chided 20 health-care facilities, including the Cleveland Clinic and seven children’s hospitals, for having the fast-food chain on their sites. The consumer group urged the hospitals in a letter yesterday to end their contracts with McDonald’s and “stop fostering a food environment that promotes harm, not health.”

McDonald’s, the world’s largest restaurant operator, has introduced items including apple slices, yogurt and salads to provide healthy offerings to customers concerned about obesity and nutrition. The changes won’t be enough to keep the restaurant at the Cleveland Clinic, one of the nation’s top-rated hospitals, when its 20-year lease soon expires, said Eileen Sheil, a clinic spokeswoman.

“We feel as a health-care institution we should walk the talk,” Sheil said today in a telephone interview. “We are doing everything in our power to do that.”

McDonald’s offers a variety of options for meals that contain less than one-third the daily recommended levels of total fat, sodium and calories, said Danya Proud, a spokeswoman for the Oak Brook, Illinois-based company. Nutrition and ingredient information is available and the company continues to assess and improve menu choices, she said in an e-mail.

‘Proud’ of Menu

“We are proud of our menu and the actions we have taken to evolve the variety of choices we offer our customers, which have led our industry,” Proud said. “McDonald’s promotes the idea that it’s not about where you eat; rather, it’s about what and how much a person chooses to consume during every eating occasion.”

Of the 14,000 McDonald’s restaurants nationwide, just 26 are in hospitals or on their campuses, she said.

That’s too many, according to the letter from Corporate Accountability International to the hospital administrators.

“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,” the Boston-based group said in the letter posted on its website. “However, in your role as a local health leader, you have allowed McDonald’s - a corporation that has disregarded public health in the name of profits - to operate within an environment devoted to helping our children get well.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Michelle Fay Cortez in Minneapolis at mcortez@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reg Gale at rgale5@bloomberg.net

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