McDonald's CEO Don Thompson defended his brand last week when a 9-year-old girl confronted him about the restaurant's lack of healthy options for kids, telling her "We don't sell junk food."
Thompson fielded the girl's question at the company's annual shareholders meeting last week.
"We don't sell junk food, Hannah," Thompson told her, adding that his kids grew up eating McDonald's and also enjoy dining at home. "We provide high-quality food. We always have; it's real beef, it's real chicken, it's real tomatoes, real lettuce, real fruit, real smoothies, real dairy, real eggs, and we do it in a way that is also affordable."
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One of the nation's most popular fast-food chains, McDonald's has taken steps recently to offer healthier menu items, such as the new Egg White Delight breakfast sandwich.
But health experts are not impressed. A doctor who attended last week's meeting voiced his concerns to Thompson.
"My medical and public health colleagues have repeatedly acknowledged the science — I think McDonald's-style fast food and the fast food practices [contribute] to the decline in children’s health and McDonald’s has yet to make substitute changes," the doctor, Andrew Bremer, said to Thompson.
McDonald's has also struggled with its reputation for customer service recently. According to a survey last month, a growing number of patrons are complaining about customer service, to the point that a top executive declared last month that "service is broken" throughout the chain.
McDonald's said 1 in 5 customer complaints nowadays are related to friendliness issues, with the top irritant being that employees are rude, according to a webcast the restaurant's executives held with franchise owners last month.
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Following a period of declining sales, McDonald's installed Jeff Stratton, formerly the company's global chief restaurant officer, as president, with the renewed goal of improved customer service.
"The new leadership has decided to focus on customer satisfaction as a real driver for us to build the brand and build sales," one McDonald's franchisee told the Wall Street Journal. "So for us to maximize the potential that's out there, we've got to be the leader in guest satisfaction."
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