McDonald's adding calorie information, testing fruit and veggie options

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.

Additionally, McDonald's published its first 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.

McDonald's plans to test foods that would increase the number of wholesome choices on its menu, including:

  • 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; and
  • New breakfast choices, including an egg-white breakfast sandwich on an English muffin made with 8 grams of whole grain.

"At McDonald's, we recognize customers want to know more about the nutrition content of the food and beverages they order," Fields said. "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."

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.


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Menu labeling, nutrition e-learning program

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. In July, 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."

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 throughout 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-sized 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 such as 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 younger 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 Dr. Cindy Goody, PhD, MBA, RD, senior director of Nutrition for McDonald's USA. "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."

A full copy of McDonald's 2012 nutrition report "Commitments to Offer Improved Nutrition Choices" is available online. McDonald's will continue to collaborate with third-party organizations to examine the company's performance against its commitments and progress will continue to be reported publicly.

Read more about health and nutrition.

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