LOS ANGELES, Sept. 12, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- To further inform and help customers and employees make nutrition-minded choices, McDonald's announced that, starting this month, restaurants nationwide will list calorie information on restaurant and drive-thru menu boards. Southern California McDonald's® customers will now have access to calorie information through drive-thru menu boards at over 620 restaurants across the Southland. In accordance with California's menu labeling law, local McDonald's restaurants have been displaying calorie information on interior menu boards since January 2011.
In addition to menu board labeling, McDonald's published its first-ever nutrition progress report [www.mcdonalds.com/changing] 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 in 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 Michael Mangione, Jr., McDonald's owner/operator and president of the McDonald's Operators' Association of Southern California (MOASC). "We are pleased to lead efforts of displaying calorie information on our drive-thru menu boards in our continued commitment to make nutrition information available to our customers and employees in Southern California and throughout the U.S."
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, 750,000 employees nationwide, working in U.S. McDonald's and its franchisee restaurants 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.
"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," said Judith C. Rodriguez, PhD, RD, LD/N, FADA, Chairperson and Professor, Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Brooks College of Health. "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."
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 our 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, 38 of McDonald's 75 total 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 sold more than 427 million servings of whole grains.
- 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, its franchisees and today's busy customers."
MOASC is comprised of nearly 600 franchised and company-owned McDonald's restaurants in the counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura. Follow us on Twitter @McDonalds_SoCal.
About McDonald's Nutrition Commitments and Report
In July 2011, McDonald's announced its Commitments to Offer Improved Nutrition Choices. A full copy of McDonald's 2012 nutrition report – measuring the company's performance toward these commitments – is available at www.McDonald's.com/Changing. McDonald's will continue to collaborate with credible third-party organizations to examine the company's performance against its commitments and progress will continue to be reported publicly.