McDonald's chief: Ronald McDonald 'going nowhere'

Ronald McDonald
Image caption Ronald McDonald is an "ambassador for good", the company says

McDonald's chief executive Jim Skinner has stood by the fast-food chain's trademark clown Ronald McDonald.

On Wednesday, a group of 550 healthcare workers wrote to McDonald's asking it to stop marketing to children using methods such as toys and the clown.

"Ronald McDonald is going nowhere," Mr Skinner told Thursday's shareholders' meeting.

Shareholders rejected a proposal for the company to issue a report outlining its role in childhood obesity.

The proposal, put forward by a group of nuns, asked for a report within six months, "assessing the company's policy responses to public concerns regarding linkages of fast food to childhood obesity, diet-related diseases and other impacts on children's health".

The board of directors opposed the motion, saying it offered a variety of food to its customers, provided nutrition information about the food, and communicated with children "in a responsible manner through age appropriate marketing and promotional activities".

Mr Skinner said: "This is about choice and we believe in the democratic process."

Separate to the nuns' motion was the latest step in a two-year campaign by Corporate Accountability International, the organisation best known for its campaign to get rid of Joe the Camel from cigarette advertising.

Its open letter to McDonald's said: "While acknowledging that fast food is unhealthy, you pin responsibility for the epidemic of diet related disease on a breakdown in parental responsibility."

"We ask that you heed our concern and retire your marketing promotions for food high in salt, fat, sugar, and calories to children, whatever form they take - from Ronald McDonald to toy giveaways."

At the shareholders' meeting, Mr Skinner said: "As the face of Ronald McDonald House Charities, Ronald is an ambassador for good and delivers important messages to kids on safety, literacy and balanced, active lifestyles."

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