University Hospital Shuts Down Its Burger King After Doctors Protest
You may think that the last place you'd find a fast-food chain is inside a hospital, given all of the health complications that foods high in salt, sugar, trans fats, and saturated fats can cause. That's exactly why doctors from the non-profit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), and Dr. Saray Stancic have fought and won a long battle to remove Burger King from University Hospital in Newark, New Jersey.
Stancic is the producer of the documentary Code Blue, a personal tale about how healthy nutrition is the most vital tool in the fight against disease, yet is rarely used by hospitals and medical professionals, who need to set an example for patients by promoting healthy diets. The Burger King had been serving greasy fast food on the hospital's premises since 2017.
Dr. Stancic has been fighting the hospital to ditch the fast-food giant for two years, explaining to The Beet in a previous interview, "Having a Burger King inside of Rutgers New Jersey Medical School’s University Hospital in Newark is absurd. I have protested it and collected names in a petition to facilitate needed change." MakeHospitalsHealthy.org estimates that over 30 hospitals in the US have fast-food chains inside them, ranging from Burger Kings to McDonald's and even Chick-fil-A.
"This serves as a bad example for the community of patients, employees, and medical students. The example starts with the doctor, she adds. "Studies show that if a doctor eats a healthy diet and exercises, they are more likely to counsel their patients on optimal lifestyle."
Burger King's contract with the hospital expired this year, and doctors belonging to PCRM pressured the incoming hospital CEO not to renew the contract, and after some internal dissent, they were ultimately successful. Stancic created a Change.org petition which amassed 3,151 signatures in favor of getting rid of the hospital's Burger King.
“The departure of greasy fast food from University Hospital is a win for visitors, patients, and staff,” said Dr. Stancic in a PCRM press release. “Several life-threatening conditions are linked to high-fat fare like bacon cheeseburgers. The hospital should provide tasty, plant-based options that can speed recovery as well as prevent and even reverse diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.”
PCRM represents over 12,000 physicians and 175,000 members nationwide and promotes the health benefits of a plant-based diet full of whole foods in an effort to change the way doctors treat chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and cancer. "By putting prevention over pills, doctors are empowering their patients to take control of their own health," reads the non-profit's website.
Hospitals around the world are shifting the way they look at nutrition, treating plant-based diets as preventative medicine. Recently, a Lebanese hospital became the first in the world to serve only plant-based food to patients. Similarly, a hospital in the UK debuted the world's first vending machine to dispenses frozen vegan heat-and-eat meals to staff.