Prince Charles says McDonald's should be banned (good for you, Charlie boy)
Prince says McDonald's should be banned -- by Caroline Davies in Abu Dhabi/Daily Telegraph
The Prince of Wales hit out at McDonald's yesterday, suggesting that banning the US chain was the "key" to children eating more healthily.
His controversial comment provoked an immediate reaction from the fast-food company, which called the words "disappointing" and accused Prince Charles of being out of touch with its menu changes.
The Prince spoke as he and the Duchess of Cornwall visited a diabetes centre in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates and watched children packing healthy lunch boxes to encourage awareness of the disease.
As nutritionist Nadine Tayara told him they discourage children from eating fast food, he retorted: "Have you got anywhere with McDonald's, have you tried getting it banned? That's the key."
His pointed attack prompted McDonald's to issue an immediate statement, highly critical of the Prince. "The comment made by the Prince of Wales appears to be an off- the-cuff remark that, in our opinion, does not reflect either our menu or where we are at as a business," it said.
"We know that other Royal Family members have visited and have probably got a more up-to-date picture of us.
"It is disappointing as he is clearly unaware of some of the moves we have made to improve choice and variety on our menu," it added.
The Prince is an advocate of the "slow food" movement, which encourages organic produce. Singling out McDonald's over other fast food chains, however, will not be perceived as diplomatic, whatever his private views.
His own sons were fans of the hamburger restaurant and often taken there by their mother, Diana, Princess of Wales and though it is unlikely Prince Charles has entered a McDonald's, his mother, the Queen, gave tacit support to the chain by officially visiting a McDonald's restaurant for the first time in Cheshire in 1998, though she did not sample its menu.
The chain fiercely protects its image, through the courts if necessary, and is concerned at the Prince's message.
According to the Imperial College London Diabetes Centre, where the visit took place, the nutritionist was said not to clearly remember exactly what the Prince had said to her. The Prince's aides sought to put his remarks "in context".
A Clarence House spokesman said: "He has for a long time advocated the importance of a balanced diet, especially for children. In visiting the diabetes centre he was keen to emphasise the need for children to enjoy the widest variety of food and not to eat any particular food to excess."
McDonald's stressed it had made many "formulation" changes in the past three years, including "the introduction of fruit, carrot sticks, salads and organic milk, the improved on-pack nutritional information and the great progress we've had in support of sustainable agriculture".
Visitors to McDonald’s in Japan will soon be able to pay for their burgers with their mobile phones after NTT DoCoMo, a local mobile phone operator, announced it is teaming up with the fast food chain to offer electronic payments and special promotions for mobile users.
Julie Ask, an analyst with research firm Jupiter, wrote the deal could provide invaluable information about customer behaviour: “It gives both McDonald’s and DoCoMo the opportunity to track consumers and their eating habits. Cash is more likely to be used in small transactions. Electronic payments will allow user behaviour to be tracked and used for marketing purposes."