McDonald's Beefing Up Nutrition Information

Fast feeder putting calories, other data on wrappers

Published in CSP Daily News

OAK BROOK, Ill. -- As part of a global commitment to promote balanced, active lifestyles, McDonald's Corp. has announced an initiative to further communicate nutrition information to its customers around the world. Nutrition information will now be displayed on the majority of McDonald's product packaging using an easy-to-understand icon and bar-chart format.

This step is the latest transparency initiative in what the company said is a 30-year record of providing nutrition information to help customers make informed choices.

The [image-nocss] new packaging will be rolled out beginning in the first half of 2006 in restaurants in North America, Europe, Asia and Latin America.

McDonald's is currently working with its packaging suppliers to ramp up production to meet the demands of this new worldwide packaging program. By the end of 2006, McDonald's plans to have nutrition information featured on packaging in more than 20,000 of its restaurants. The remaining restaurants will implement nutrition information on packaging as it becomes locally relevant and commercially feasible.

The new packaging will debut at McDonald's restaurants at the Olympic Winter Games in Torino, Italy in February.

Customers are coming to McDonald's in record numbers, and we take their trust in our brand very seriously. That's why we want them to have easy-to- understand nutrition information about our great-tasting food and wide range of menu options. We are putting the information customers need literally into their hands, said Jim Skinner, CEO of Oak Brook, Ill.-based McDonald's. This initiative makes it easier than ever to understand the quality that goes into our food. We're very confident that the more information people have, the more they will like what they see at McDonald's.

The new format converts scientific information into a customer-friendly snapshot of a product's nutrition value and how it relates to daily nutrient recommendations using bar charts and icons. The icons represent the five elements that experts agree are most relevant to consumer understanding of nutritioncalories, protein, fat, carbohydrates and sodium. Additional background will be added to McDonald's websites and restaurant materials to familiarize customers with this new format and how they can apply it to their daily lives.

There is nothing more important to McDonald's than building customer trust and loyalty around the world. We listen closely to our customers so we know how important transparency is, which is what this initiative is all about, said Mike Roberts, McDonald's president and COO. Adding nutrition information to our packaging will help our customers meet their individual taste preferences and nutrition requirements, as well as choose from our menu of quality food and portion sizes.

Beyond consumer tests, this initiative was guided by input from outside experts from around the world, including government officials, academic researchers, and health and nutrition authorities. Additionally, McDonald's consulted with the European Nutritionists Steering Group, consisting of nutrition professionals from McDonald's largest European markets, and the McDonald's Global Advisory Council on Balanced, Active Lifestyles (GAC), a group of independent advisors in the areas of nutrition, public health and fitness.

McDonald's will continue to work closely with scientists, key government officials, and outside experts to ensure the new nutrition information meets local guidelines and is appropriately adapted for local relevance. For example, in the U.S. and Canada, the official Nutrition Facts panel that has appeared on packaged foods for years also will be featured on McDonald's packaging along with the icons and bar chart. Also, McDonald's Europe will be the first in the restaurant industry to include pan-European nutrition reference values, called Guideline Daily Amounts (GDAs), as part of its nutrition information outreach to adults and children.

When implemented, the majority of McDonald's packaging will include nutrition information, with a few exceptions. For example, packaging used in short-term promotions, and wrappers and containers used for multiple products cannot feature product specific nutrition information. In these instances, customers will be directed to McDonald's website or to in-restaurant materials for the nutrition information they need.

Restaurants in Australia and Brazil already provide a form of nutrition information on their product packaging. McDonald's 13,000 U.S. restaurants also feature nutrition information on Happy Meal boxes and bags.