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A quiet wow from Nestle.

Until they do something newsworthy, it's easy to forget that Nestle is the world's largest food company. Now they've announced plans to invest over $500 million in wellness products designed to help prevent and treat things like diabetes and obesity. Without much fanfare, they describe it as "an opportunity that is more in billions than millions." I believe they are right, especially when they combine prevent with treat. That's an amazing combination, which isn't unlike the way many consumers drink orange juice to prevent and treat colds.

Former President Bill Clinton could be a spokesman for their plans, as he touts his new vegetarian diet that has enabled him to lose 25 pounds and hopefully, purge his arteries of the Big Mac residue that was clogging them up.

He is not alone in blaming McDonald's for America's health problems. The fast food giant is being attacked by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, which blames fast food for the increased rate of heart disease. The committee's goal is to limit the number and growth of fast food restaurants in Washington, D.C. and other metropolitan areas. Their attack is reminiscent of a Poisoning of America newspaper advertising campaign initiated in 1990 by a wealthy Omaha businessman named Phil Sokolof who blamed tropical oils used in snacks and beef tallow used for McDonald's fries for his own heart attack.

Those ads generated a lot of heat in the United States and Europe, and triggered some heavy responses from McDonald's, at least on this side of the Atlantic. I had the fun of participating in a virtual boxing match against the CEO of McDonalds-Netherlands. The match was part of a Europe-wide advertising conference held in Rotterdam. My position was that the attacks had legs and would eventually impact McDonald's worldwide. My opponent felt that people in Europe, especially his customers in the Netherlands, wouldn't pay attention to the charges.

I think McDonald's decision to stop making their fries in beef tallow was partly attributable to those Poisoning of America ads. The Physician's Committee ads could have similar impact. Many shoppers have been disappointed with how little physicians know about nutrition, so this is a winning battle for doctors to wage.
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Author:Autumn, Happy; Doyle, Mona
Publication:The Shopper Report
Date:Oct 1, 2010
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