Starting next week, McDonald's is going to start posting calorie counts on menu boards nationwide, both inside the restaurants and on drive-through menus. That's right: people who eat at McDonald's will soon be confronted with the fact that their double cheeseburger clocks in at almost 800 calories and their large shake is almost 900 (warning: link is PDF). They also have a plan for a smattering of other nutrition initiatives, such as (voluntary) nutritional education programs for employees and introducing seasonal produce to the menu.
McDonald's says they're making this move because, as a Senior VP told USA Today, "It's the right thing to do." But the same article notes that proposed health care reform regulations under review by the FDA would actually require the chain to post calorie counts, so perhaps they're just getting a head start? Anyway, here's a press release:
McDONALD'S USA ADDING CALORIE COUNTS TO MENU BOARDS, INNOVATING WITH RECOMMENDED FOOD GROUPS, PUBLISHES NUTRITION PROGRESS REPORT
McDonald's leadership takes further steps in journey toward helping customers, employees make informed nutrition choices
OAK BROOK, Ill. (Sept. 12, 2012) – McDonald's USA President Jan Fields announced today that, starting next week, the company will list calorie information on restaurant and drive-thru menus nationwide to further inform and help customers and employees make nutrition-minded choices.
In addition to menu board labeling, McDonald's published its first-ever nutrition progress report and revealed several 2013 menu innovations in test that will include recommended food groups from the United States Department of Agriculture's 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans reflected in the messages supporting MyPlate. These are the latest in a series of actions to support McDonald's "Commitments to Offer Improved Nutrition Choices," announced July 2011.
The comprehensive plan aims to help customers and employees make informed nutrition choices whether visiting McDonald's or eating elsewhere.
Menu Board Labeling to Inform Customer Choices
"At McDonald's, we recognize customers want to know more about the nutrition content of the food and beverages they order," said Fields. "As a company that has provided nutrition information for more than 30 years, we are pleased to add to the ways we make nutrition information available to our customers and employees."
According to recent research by the International Food Information Council Foundation, about 15 percent of Americans accurately estimate the number of calories they need to maintain their weight. This past summer, McDonald's introduced a "Favorites Under 400" menu that highlights the calorie information for some of customers' favorite foods and beverages to help put calorie counts in better context.
Later this fall, approximately 750,000 employees working in McDonald's and franchisee restaurants in the U.S. will be introduced to a voluntary nutrition e-learning program. The program will help build employees' knowledge of calories, nutrition and McDonald's menu offerings.
These programs follow the launch of McDonald's mobile app late last year that provides customers with on-the-go nutrition information, as well as an updated online meal-builder that offers customizable information.
"McDonald's initiatives to provide Apple Slices and a fat-free milk option in the Happy Meals are aligned with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010, as is the goal to reduce sodium, added sugars and saturated fats in foods," said Judith C. Rodriguez, PhD, RD, LD/N, FADA, Chairperson and Professor, Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Brooks College of Health.
"The transparency and availability of nutrition information enables consumers to make choices and can help caregivers teach and model decision-making behavior to children. These are life skills that will benefit them not only at McDonald's but in every aspect of life."
2013 Menu Tests Include More Recommended Food Groups
To make nutritious choices more convenient and accessible, McDonald's revealed plans today to test foods that would increase the number of wholesome choices on its menu. The menu items being explored for 2013 include more recommended food groups. Among the additions being tested:
More seasonal fruit and vegetables options, such as blueberries and cucumbers, during peak seasons.
Additional produce side options and grilled chicken choices for Happy Meals.
The McWrap, inspired by McDonald's Europe, features fresh vegetables and is available in three flavors – Chicken & Bacon, Sweet Chili Chicken, and Chicken & Ranch – starting at 350 calories.
New breakfast choices, including an egg-white breakfast sandwich on an English muffin
made with 8 grams of whole grain.
New McDonald's Report Measures Company's Nutrition Progress
McDonald's published its first nutrition report today, "McDonald's USA Nutrition Journey: 2012 Progress Report," which measures McDonald's nutrition performance over the past year. Ernst & Young LLP conducted an independent examination of McDonald's progress against its commitment goals. Report highlights focus on three key nutrition commitments:
Children's Well-Being – McDonald's new Happy Meal launched in March 2012 and now automatically includes Apple Slices and a kids-size fry. Fat-free chocolate milk was also added as an additional beverage choice. More than 90 percent of McDonald's paid national Happy Meal television advertising since March 2012 has included a positive nutrition and/or active lifestyle message for kids. Additional communication vehicles like the Happy Meal box and happymeal.com website also now provide kids and families with messages on nutrition or being active. McDonald's advertising has focused on building kids' enthusiasm for fruits and other choices that meet the nutritional criteria outlined in the Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI) Food Pledge.
Nutritionally Balanced Menu Choices – The new Happy Meal is anticipated to introduce about 100 million cups of apples annually into the diets of McDonald's youngest customers. Since February 2011, McDonald's has reduced sodium across its national core menu of food choices by more than 11 percent. In total, more than half of McDonald's national food items had a reduction in sodium, ranging from 1 percent to 35 percent. In addition, each of McDonald's oatmeal provides two servings of whole grain.
Since the introduction of the oatmeal line in January 2011, the company has served more than 427 million servings of whole grain.
Nutrition Information and Education – More than 290,000 people have downloaded McDonald's new mobile application that gives customers access to nutritional information.
"We've made a lot of good progress toward our nutrition commitments and we recognize there's still more to do," said Senior Director of Nutrition for McDonald's USA Dr. Cindy Goody, PhD, MBA, RD. "As we continue to accelerate our nutrition-related efforts, we're dedicated to offering balanced menu options and making nutrition information accessible to employees of McDonald's and its franchisees, as well as today's busy customers."
· McDonald's to Post Calories For Items on Menu Boards [USA Today]
· All McDonald's Coverage on Eater [-E-]