McDonald’s to Add Nutrition Info to Packaging
Statement of CSPI Executive Director Michael F. Jacobson
October 25, 2005
McDonald’s announcement that it will add nutrition information to most of its packages is a useful step in providing customers more, and more readable, nutrition information. It stands apart from some other nutrition initiatives – such as brochures and posters – that McDonald’s and other companies have undertaken that were more illusory than useful. And it puts the lie to the fast-food industry’s contention that it’s impossible to do.
That said, a far better step would be to provide calorie counts right on the menu board, so consumers would have that one critical piece of information before they placed their order. Considering America’s obesity epidemic, that calorie information would do more than just about any other measure to help people protect their waistlines. We hope that McDonald’s will upgrade its menu boards voluntarily or at least not oppose legislation in New York, Washington, D.C., and other locales that would require it.
On the bar graphs on package labels, I wish McDonald’s would distinguish saturated and trans fat from total fat—an important distinction that would help Americans reduce their risk of heart disease. As it happens, McDonald’s fried foods are high in saturated and trans fat, since their potatoes, chicken, and fish are fried in a partially hydrogenated oil blend. One reason not to praise an announcement like today’s too loudly is that McDonald’s infamously retreated from its promise to reduce and ultimately eliminate the trans fat in its cooking oils. We hope that they eventually make good on that.
Over the years, CSPI has urged McDonald’s and other companies to not only provide information, but to improve their foods by using leaner meat, reducing the salt content of practically everything, using more whole grains, and using liquid oils instead of partially hydrogenated oils.