McDonald’s nutrition facts will be posted on the menus at all 14,000-plus locations in the U.S. next week, the company announced today. You might be asking yourself, “Don’t they already do that?” or “Isn’t the government forcing them to do that anyway?”; the answer is “sort of.” The chain already posts nutrition facts in locations where state law mandates it (but not everywhere), and Obama’s healthcare reform bill will eventually require chains to post nutrition facts on menus (but not yet), so McDonald’s isn’t technically the most noble fast food joint in the world. But for once, we’re actually kind of excited about the initiative they’re taking; mostly because it sounds like they’re working hard on making some other really positive changes to their menu.
Posting nutrition facts alone sounds more like a PR stunt than actual concern for consumer health. But McDonald’s outlined a few other initiatives that are underway that are fairly encouraging. According to Wall Street Journal, the company is testing seasonal fruit and vegetable options (like blueberries and cucumbers), healthy breakfast choices (like egg-white only breakfast sandwich on a whole-grain McMuffin), grilled chicken and produce side options for Happy Meals, and vegetable-heavy menu items like “McWraps.” They also said that they’ll be offering a voluntary nutrition e-learning program to their employees to help them learn about the nutritional side of their menu options.
Dr. Cindy Goody, McDonald’s senior director of nutrition, said in a statement: “We’ve made a lot of good progress toward our nutrition commitments and we recognize there’s still more to do.”
While we don’t think anyone should expect to find “health food” at McDonald’s now or in the future, we are at least happy to see that they’re making changes in response to growing evidence that people need healthier options.
Blueberries and cucumbers may not solve everyone’s health problems, but in places where finding those ingredients can mean a long car ride and more money than most people can afford to spend, making them available at a ubiquitous chain restaurant like McDonald’s is actually a fairly good thing. So, while we don’t think anyone should expect to find awesomely “healthy” options at any fast food joint, we’re cautiously optimistic that McDonald’s could eventually offer better options to those who are choosing between chains (whatever their reason might be).
Photo: flickr user Patricksmercy