McDonald’s Caught Lowballing Nutrition Numbers

Ice Cream Cone Serving Sizes Exceed McDonald’s Official Numbers

February 18, 2003

McDonald’s greatly understates the serving size—and therefore the fat and calorie content—for its Vanilla Reduced-Fat Ice Cream Cones, according to a survey of five Washington, D.C. McDonald’s outlets by the non-profit Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI).

McDonald’s web site only offers nutrition information for a 90-gram ice cream cone that lists 150 calories and 3 grams of saturated fat. But CSPI researchers found two sizes on sale in Washington, DC, and even the smaller size exceeded McDonald’s official size by 49 percent, averaging 134 grams. The average “small” cone would have 225 calories and 4.5 grams of saturated fat, or 22 percent of the recommended Daily Value for saturated fat, according to CSPI.

The larger ice cream cones purchased by CSPI exceeded McDonald’s lone listed size by 99 percent, averaging 179 grams. The average large ice cream cone would have twice the calories and fat of the size listed on the McDonald’s web site. The six grams of saturated fat in a large McDonald’s reduced-fat ice cream cone would provide about 30 percent of the Daily Value of saturated fat.

“This would present a real problem for dieters who are trying to avoid obesity or heart disease, and are relying solely on McDonald’s web site for accurate nutrition information,” said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson. “It’s surprising that a major restaurant chain would provide such inaccurate information.”


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