Here’s a pretty interesting story from the UK which illustrates the kind of pro-active role that franchises can play in forming public policy.
The San Francisco City Council recently banned Happy Meals by requiring any meal which gave toys to a child to meet certain nutritional requirements. Meanwhile across the Atlantic, the new British government has opted to take another tack in how it promotes child nutrition. They are working directly with the country's top food franchises, as the Daily Mail reported this week.
David Cameron’s government has indicated that they want to work with the likes of McDonald’s and KFC to help form its developing obesity programs. British Health Secretary Andrew Lansley is creating a ‘responsibility deal’ regarding obesity and national health and wants to consult with the big food franchises, British supermarkets and other groups to guarantee that British people eat better.
Now, some campaigners in Britain have criticized the decision, saying it’s like letting tobacco companies create national smoking policy. I think that’s a crude comparison. We have seen the commitments to health that the likes of McDonald’s have made in recent years. Taking a broader view, I think it is helpful to bring food franchises into the national health discussion. It gives them the onus to bring about change and the platform to receive plaudits for improving health.
One level, this decision certainly shows the importance that these franchises play in the British food market. Britain has a growing obesity problem and hopefully the franchises themselves can help the national effort to make lives healthier.