Dear Hilton Hotels: No such thing as a free breakfast…


Dear Hilton Hotels:

I appreciated receiving an email from you today thanking me for choosing Hampton Inn & Suites in Bethlehem and letting me know that you want to make all my stays as comfortable and rewarding as possible. I received a message like yours back in March 2011 from the Hilton Garden Inn/Chelsea, in Manhattan. I responded with a letter similar to this one and am disappointed that more than 5 months later, no changes have been made.

The room was quite comfortable and the service was accommodating and friendly. What I was not comfortable with was the complimentary breakfast. I appreciate being offered complimentary breakfast with my stay along with hot beverages any time of the day. I understand that you are operating a business and want to attract and keep customers, and be profitable. Offering free food is attractive to many. Yet, as a ‘forward thinking global leader of hospitality’ and being ‘the first hotel in the world to earn both LEED and Green Seal environmental certifications’ I am confused by the fact that Hilton serves food that is unhealthy to people and damaging to the environment. Let me explain.

Your jellies, syrups and peanut butter from Smuckers contain high fructose corn syrup. This is an extremely unhealthy product and should not be consumed. Hilton should find a supplier that does not use high fructose corn syrup as a sweetener and should encourage Smuckers to remove high fructose corn syrup from their products. Production of high fructose corn syrup is also not environmentally-friendly.

Hilton offers only cow’s milk. Most people of Asian and African descent are lactose-intolerant. Many abstain from consuming cow’s milk for religious or ethical reasons. Milk has been shown in hundreds of medical studies to be linked to breast and prostate cancer. The American Dietetic Association has acknowledged that cow’s milk is not required for a healthy diet. The production of milk is also devastating on the environment and a major cause of global warming. There should be milk alternatives for your customers and I don’t mean non-dairy creamers. Non-dairy creamers, like the ones served at the Hampton Inn, are very unhealthy products, containing artificial colors, hydrogenated oil and corn syrup. Non-dairy milks – like soy, rice or almond milk should be served. These come in bottles or plastic containers that do not have to be refrigerated until opened. They can easily be on hand indefinitely until a customer requests non-dairy milk. There are also soy and coconut milk-based yogurts available.

There were numerous bread products available, all made from unhealthy refined wheat flour. Many people have wheat and gluten allergies. Celiac’s disease is affecting more and more people. Yet all of the breads available during my stay were wheat-based. I recommend including gluten-free bread products or at the very least include rice cakes alongside the wheat breads.

Oatmeal is an excellent food, but the Quaker Oats individual packages contain unnecessary, unhealthy ingredients. Oatmeal should contain only oatmeal and nothing else. Plain oatmeal should be served with items, such as unsulphured dried fruits and other whole food toppings, which people can choose to add on the side.

If Hilton really is the ‘forward thinking global leader of hospitality’ all the food offered should be organic. Pesticides and herbicides are damaging our farm lands and expose farm workers, their families and neighbors to cancer-causing chemicals. I do not wish to consume foods with residual toxic pesticides and herbicides that can accumulate in my body.

Hilton Hotels should not serve meat and egg products that come from animals raised in the filthy, crammed, cruel conditions of today’s factory farms. Serving these foods tacitly implies that Hilton supports the environmental destruction this industry causes along with the pain and suffering it inflicts on billions of innocent animals every year.

In today’s economy, to cut costs, businesses often serve low-quality products even though they are unhealthy and environmentally destructive. As the ‘forward thinking global leader of hospitality’ Hilton has the opportunity and the responsibility to lead the way, showing everyone that providing quality, health-promoting, planet-friendly, delicious food is good for business, good for people, good for the environment and the only sustainable choice for our future.

Caryn Hartglass

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