September 13, 2012
Calorie Counters Unite: McDonalds To Post Calories On Menu Boards
Connie K. Ho for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
You are what you eat. This is a message that has been hammered by consumer interest groups who have advocated healthier nutrition options as the obesity epidemic continues to skyrocket in the United States. To help educate consumers on its various food and beverage offerings, McDonald's recently announced that locations throughout the U.S. would include calorie information for all items listed on menu boards inside the restaurant and in front of drive-thrus.
"It's the right thing to do," Greg Watson, senior vice president of menu innovation for McDonald's, told USA Today. "It's what a leader would do."
Various other factors could have caused the company to take action. For example, the health care reform proposed by President Barack Obama included a policy that would have required chain restaurants to include calorie information for consumers. The new rule would apply to companies that have 20 or more restaurants throughout the U.S.
However, the reform is currently being reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and businesses would not have acted on the policy until after finding out the outcome of the upcoming presidential election. The policy to post calorie information is already practiced in places like California and the city of New York.
"It's an important step forward," remarked Michael Jacobson, executive director for consumer advocacy group Center For Science in the Public Interest, in the USA Today article. "The other fast-food chains will feel the competitive pressure to provide the same information."
Reuters reports that, besides agreeing to post calorie information, McDonalds was one of the first organizations to bring healthier options to its menu. For example, it adjusted the Happy Meals for kids by including apples as a side order and decreasing more than half the portion of French fries. As well, the company created a “Favorites under 400” menu that focused on products that were within the calorie range. With these changes underway, McDonalds is working on reducing the calories in its food items as well as increasing the fruits and vegetables on its menu.
"To truly address its health impact ... the burger giant (needs) to make more fundamental, far-reaching changes," commented Juliana Shulman, a senior organizer for the Value [the] Meal Campaign of Corporate Accountability International, in the Reuters article.
Some individuals are wary of McDonald´s decision to include nutritional information, stating that the company acts as if it has embraced the need to post calories but has truly been reluctant to do so.
"They fought and fought and fought against this, and now they act like they wanted it all the time," commented Kelly Brownell, director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at Yale University, in the USA Today article.
Other companies that have taken the lead to post nutritional information include Panera Bread Company, the first business to voluntarily list calories of items, and Subway, who has marketed itself as a healthy alternative to other fast food chains.