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McDonald's Provides Nutrition Advice In German Schools

SÜDDEUTSCHE ZEITUNG (Germany)

Worldcrunch

BERLIN - What better way to help educate kids on healthy eating than with some Big-Mac-And-Large-Fries-sponsored lessons!?

This special sauce comes courtesy of a German non-profit, that has called on McDonald's to be one of the sponsors for a new government-sanctioned program to provide nutrition education in schools, writes Süddeutsche Zeitung.

The "Alliance for Consumer Education" is the brainchild of the German Consumer Protection Foundation, and was presented to the public this week in Berlin by the Minister for Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection, Ilse Aigner.

"The nutrition education of young children cannot be left to the food industry,” said German consumer activist group Foodwatch.

Are they serious? Julian Fischer, the Alliance’s CEO, said it was clear to him that associating McDonald’s with an initiative to improve kids’ diets would spark immediate criticism. But that was part of the point: tired of campaigning in vain for media coverage or public interest for the organization's nutritional initiatives, Fischer said this idea was to bring in heavyweight partners who carry real clout -- and maybe even court controversy.

McDonald's brings some publicity to the foundation, some money (although Fischer described its contribution as “relatively modest”) as well as some influence. It, in turn, benefits from being associated with a health promotion effort, Suddeutsche reports.

A McDonald’s spokesman, Philipp Wachholz, described its commitment to healthy nutrition for children as “a contribution, as a responsible company in the food industry, to society.” The company would not be involved in the hands-on education programs in schools, he said.

Foodwatch, however, said that industry players like McDonald’s can't be allowed to sponsor initiatives of social responsibility while maintaining their core business that are “making huge profits pushing junk food at kids,” Fischer said.

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