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04/02/03 . n/a . BBC News . UK
End McDonald's funding says MP
An MP is calling for an end to the sponsorship by fast food firm McDonald's of a school governors' meeting in Cornwall.
McDonald's has sponsored the annual Cornwall School Governors' Council for the past five years.
About 250 governors are expected at the meeting on 15 March.
But North Cornwall Liberal Democrat MP Paul Tyler said the time had come to end sponsorship which would encourage children to eat more fast food and was "wickedly irresponsible".
He wrote to council chairman, Peter Cornall, saying: "As every parent, teacher and school governor knows, or should know, excessive consumption of fast food is a proven cause of the increase in obesity and other serious medical conditions.
"Anything that implies approval for a company, famous for just such food, sends out precisely the wrong message.
"At a time when authoritative medical and educational opinion is increasingly united in its disapproval for fast food, the timing is bizarre," he added.
Governors' council secretary Nigel Partington said they had received a copy of Mr Tyler's letter.
'Fast not bad'
He said: "We are considering the letter with the local education authority and have no comment as yet."
McDonald's, which has eight restaurants and employs 520 in Cornwall said it was "surprised and disappointed" by the MP's comments.
A spokesman said that fast food was not bad for health.
"Nutritional experts agree that good health is the result of balanced diet and lifestyle.
"This debate is about changing and more sedentary lifestyles, considerations of individual responsibility, individual choice and above all - balance.
"We offer our customers choice and variety and make nutritional information and guidance available to them in a variety of ways including in our restaurants, enabling them to make informed choices in relation to their whole diet."
Last year in the UK, McDonald's had invested more than £819,000 in Education Business Partnerships, supporting local authorities with teacher placements, work experience, employee volunteering, curriculum projects, and school governors.