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Germany Dumps McDonald's From School Nutrition Program

Parents and health experts in had voiced outrage that the American fast-food giant was behind a program to teach German students about good nutrition.

"Ich liebe es" ... NOT.
"Ich liebe es" ... NOT.
Silvia Liebrich

MUNICH — That fast food chain McDonald's should be involved in giving nutrition advice in German schools sparked widespread anger when the program emerged a little over a year ago.

Now after repeated protests from both parents and experts, the German Consumer Protection Foundation has ended its cooperation with the U.S. chain in terms of food education in schools, Berlin-based foodwatch — an independent nonprofit organization that monitors the food industry — has just announced.

Some 37,000 people had signed a petition to have the McDonald’s presence removed from schools. McDonald’s had described the company's commitment last year to healthy nutrition for children as “a contribution, as a responsible company in the food industry, to society,” rather than offering hands-on education programs in schools.

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A McDonald's restaurant in Magdeburg — Photo: Tim

News that it was booted off the project was not well received at McDonald’s HQ, a spokesperson told Süddeutsche Zeitung. "We are extremely irritated at having been dropped from the program as well as with the way that was handled. No real reasons were given for the dismissal, nor was there any personal discussion," said the spokesperson, who noted that the consumer foundation itself had invited McDonald’s to be part of the program.

Foodwatch considers the exclusion of the fast food chain to be the first in a series of steps that must be taken. "Schools should be free of commercial interests," says foodwatch expert Oliver Huizinga.

The protests went beyond McDonald’s to include all other private firms that were a part of the "Bündnis für Verbraucherbildung" (Alliance for Consumer Education) program. In the food industry these include Metro, Edeka, Rewe and Tchibo. Other firms that are part of the alliance include Deutsche Telekom, Commerzbank and the ING-Diba bank.

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