May 25, 2013 -- Hannah Robertson, the 9-year-old girl who grilled Don Thompson, the CEO of McDonald's Corp., at a shareholder meeting for marketing fast food to children said she wasn't impressed with his response.
"I don't think he answered it very well, because he just kept saying the same things over and over again like, 'We don't market to kids and we don't sell junk food,'" Robertson said.
Thompson found himself in the hotseat at the annual shareholder meeting Thursday in Oak Brook, Ill., the company's headquarters, when he was confronted by the 9-year-old, who had flown in from Kelowna, British Columbia with her mother for the meeting.
"Something that I don't think is fair is when big companies try to trick kids into eating food that isn't good for them by using toys and cartoon characters," Hannah said during the question and answer part of the meeting. "If parents haven't taught their kids about healthy eating then the kids probably believe that junk food is good for them because it might taste good."
Her mother, Kia Robertson, attended the meeting as a member of advocacy group Corporate Accountability International, headquartered in Boston and with offices around the world. Kia Robertson, 36, started "Today I Ate a Rainbow" in 2009, described as an "interactive nutritional game," and is a nutrition blogger.
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"It would be nice if you stopped trying to trick kids into wanting to eat your food all the time," Hannah, who is in the fourth grade, went on to say. "I make cooking videos with my mom that show kids that eating healthy can be fun and yummy. We teach them that eating a rainbow of fruits and veggies makes kids healthier, smarter and happier because that is the truth."
Thompson thanked her for her question but also refuted Hannah's accusations after her closing question, "Mr. Thompson, don't you want kids to be healthy so they can live a long and happy life?"
"First off, we don't sell junk food, Hannah," Thompson said. "My kids also eat McDonald's. When they were about your size, to my son who is with us today, who was a little bit bigger, he was a football player, and also they cook with me at home. I love to cook. We cook a lot of fruits and veggies at home."
Thompson pointed out that McDonald's serves fruits and vegetables, including apples in its Happy Meals and salads for $1, and is hoping to "sell even more".
Hannah said she has tried McDonald's when she was 2 or 3-years-old but doesn't remember if she liked the food. She said she would try it again, as soon as the company makes healthier changes to their menu.
Her scolding of the CEO attracted both praise and critics, who point out she had a lot of adult help. Hannah insisted her message of healthy eating is something she passionately supports.
"Well, I got to think about what I was speaking in my mind, and not many people would get to do that," she said.