Wednesday, October 26, 2005

I'm Lovin' It: McDonald's To Print Nutrition Info On Food Packaging In 2006

McDonald's to reveal the nutritional content of their foods on packaging

If there was ever a clear sign of the impending apocalypse, then this is it.

The Washington Post is reporting that fast food giant McDonald's agreed on Tuesday to begin printing the nutritional information about their foods directly on the packaging beginning in March 2006, including the fat, sodium, carbohydrates, protein and calories.

Lisa Howard, a McDonald's spokeswoman, said their customers are becoming more and more health-conscious and have requested the nutritional information be readily available to them when they visit the world's #1 fast food restaurant chain.

She noted that the new packaging will be "simple to understand, easy to use, easy to access."

While I applaud McDonald's for being willing to share the nutritional content of their foods directly on the packaging, I think most people who visit the Golden Arches know that most of what is sold there is unhealthy for them to eat. Whether it is the excessive sugar content of the hot fudge sundaes or the carbohydrate-loaded french fries, there's just not a whole lot of foods that most people would consider "healthy" at Mickey-D's. There's just not.

Of course, you could pick up this book if you absolutely MUST eat at McDonald's or any other fast food restaurant. It contains helpful suggestions about what is good for you to order and what you should stay away from. And there are examples of people who are trying to prove it is possible to survive and even lose weight on just fast food. Uh, I think I'll pass.

One thing I will applaud McDonald's about is the big posters they have had hanging up in their restaurants for years that provide the nutritional information for all of their foods. In fact, this information is even posted at their web site now, with a special area called "Simple Steps To Controlling Your Carbohydrates." I bet you didn't know that was there did you? I sure didn't.

But of the 23 million customers who visit McDonald's each day, a mere 700,000 log on to the official McDonald's web site. And of that number, how many are actually seeking out the nutritional information about the foods? Ten percent at the most, maybe? That's only about 70,000 out of that 23,000,000 researching the foods they are putting in their mouths, or .003 of all McDonald's consumers -- barely even a drop in the bucket!

But even still, some say the nutritional facts should be posted directly on the menu along with the product description and prices. Say what? It's been a couple of years since I've been inside of a McDonald's restaurant, but I remember how cramped the menu was WITHOUT this extra information. There is no way anybody is going to stand there with dozens of people waiting behind them to review all the nutritional information about what they are going to order.

If you are concerned about how healthy your food selections are going to be for you, then there are plenty of ways to do that ahead of time so you can make the best choice when it is your time to order. And, no, the Big Mac (47g carbs) and Large Fries (70g carbs) with a Coke (86g carbs) and M&M McFlurry (96g carbs) is not one of them! How do you like that 300g carbohydrate meal?! That's more carbs than I used to eat in a week and a half while I was losing weight!!!

Restaurant industry leaders say most people simply ignore the vast array of information that is available to them when they eat at a fast food chain because frankly they are not changing their eating habits one bit. But they believe McDonald's is saving face by caving in to pressure by consumers to make the nutritional content readily available. And McDonald's no doubt is hoping this one simple act will silence those who want to blame them for the obesity epidemic in the United States.

I don't think this lets McDonald's and other fast food companies off the hook, but it is a better step towards educating the public about what they are putting in their mouth. But ultimately it is the consumer who makes the final decision about whether they put that purchase the food or not. The onus cannot be put on these companies who are simply providing consumers with what they want.

I don't necessarily agree with some of the marketing tactics used to convince people to buy their products, but restaurants have every right to do business however they see fit to make money. That's capitalism and is what makes America the greatest country in the world. I will never stand in the way of business people making good economic decisions to better themselves financially.

But there does come a responsibility to provide the buying public with the nutritional they need to make informed decisions. Adding a few salads to your menu does not make the entire menu safe for consumption. And neither does adding the nutritional content on the product packaging. Again, it all falls on the person who is ordering the food, paying for the food, and then eating the food about whether that was a healthy eating decision or not. Like Bob Harper from "The Biggest Loser" said in his interview with me recently, fast food is "killing us as a nation." We must blame ourselves for holding the shovel and digging the grave.

Currently legislation is underway in various states to require restaurants to post nutritional information on their menus. Predictably, the restaurant industry is complaining about costs and how tedious and challenging it would be to transition all that information into their menus.

McDonald's even test-marketed putting the nutrition facts about their foods on their menu and the customers found it "confusing," which is why they decided to place it directly on the food packaging.

Interestingly, as more and more nutritional data has become available to consumers, the move has been to the next "big" thing. Do you think we'll be seeing one of these in a McDonald's before long? Don't laugh, that day may be here sooner than you think!

Nutritional info or no nutritional info, I'm not going to McDonald's ever again. There are just too many bad memories of that 410-pound man that I used to be before I started livin' la vida low-carb. No thank you! I'm not making that mistake again! In fact, after I lost 170 pounds on a low-fat diet in 1999, guess where I went when I gave up on that "diet." M-C-D-O-N-A-L-D-S!!! You can read about how I gained back all my weight and then some before I found a better way to control my weight in my new book "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb."

The new packaging will make its world debut at the Olympic Winter Games in Turin, Italy, in February.

I wonder what Morgan Spurlock thinks about this move by McDonald's, hmmm?!

Labels: , ,


Blogger Lowcarb_dave said...

Here in Australia, McDonalds or as we call it Maccas, have had the nutritional info on the burger wrappers for some time - possibly 18 months or more. It hasn't made any difference to lowering obesity or for people choosing to live healthier lifestyles. It's a big joke in my opinion.

10/26/2005 7:58 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home