McDonald’s to offer improved nutrition choices

July 26, 2011

McDonald’s USA President Jan Fields has announced the company’s “Commitments to Offer Improved Nutrition Choices.” The comprehensive plan aims to help customers—especially families and children—make nutrition-minded choices whether visiting McDonald’s or eating elsewhere. Menu changes underway include the addition of more nutritionally balanced choices, along with an increased focus on providing nutrition information that enables customers and employees to make simple, informed menu decisions.

“McDonald’s will always try to do the right thing, and we know we can help make a difference in our communities,” said Jan Fields, President, McDonald’s USA. “The commitments we’re announcing today will guide the future evolution of our menu and marketing.”

McDonald’s Commitments to Offer Improved Nutrition Choices include:

  • Championing children’s well-being: McDonald’s will automatically include produce or a low-fat dairy option in every Happy Meal and promote options that meet the rigorous Council for Better Business Bureaus Food Pledge nutrition standards by Q1 2012. The impact will be an estimated 20% reduction in calories of the most popular Happy Meals, also reducing fat in the meal.
  • Expanding and improving nutritionally balanced menu choices: By 2020, McDonald’s will reduce added sugars, saturated fat, and calories through varied portion sizes, reformulations, and innovations. Also, by 2015, McDonald’s will reduce sodium an average of 15% overall across its national menu of food choices.
  • Increasing customers’ and employees’ access to nutrition information: McDonald’s will expand new in-restaurant, website, and mobile communications, and marketing vehicles making access to this information even easier. To begin, McDonald’s is now making available its first mobile app so customers can access nutrition information on-the-go.

“As a member of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, I applaud the commitments made by McDonald’s today,” said Roger Clemens, IFT President-Elect and Adjunct Professor of Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Southern California. “They have captured the intent of the Guidelines and have taken a reasoned, evidence-based approach that should have a positive impact on the millions of children and adults McDonald’s serves every day.”

Actions in support of the nutrition commitments are already underway at restaurants. For example, the restaurant will begin rolling out the new Happy Meal in September 2011, with the goal of having them available in all 14,000 restaurants during Q1 2012. The new Happy Meal will automatically include both produce (apple slices, a quarter cup or half serving) and a new smaller size French fries (1.1 oz) along with the choice of a hamburger, cheeseburger, or Chicken McNuggets, and choice of beverage, including new fat-free chocolate milk and 1% low-fat white milk. For those customers who prefer a side choice of apples only, two bags of apple slices will be available, upon request.

By adding fruit in every Happy Meal, McDonald’s hopes to address a challenge children face in meeting the recommended daily consumption of produce. McDonald’s has offered apples as a requested choice in Happy Meals since 2004. And, while recent research found that on average, 88% of McDonald’s customers are aware of the option, apples are chosen in only 11% of Happy Meal purchases.

For many months and in some cases, years, McDonald’s has been engaging suppliers, government, and non-government organizations to determine ways it could play a role in helping society address today’s obesity concerns. McDonald’s will develop additional fruit and vegetable choices and expects them to roll out over the next few years. The company will continue to evaluate new scientific research, public health statistics, and customer insights and behavior to determine further nutrition adaptations to Happy Meals.

Press release