U.S. fast food giant McDonald's Corp will begin posting calorie information for its entire menu at U.S. stores starting from next week, reportedBloomberg News on Wednesday, in order to pre-empt a regulation that could require chains to disclose the information anyway.
The president of McDonald's USA said that the move was "important" for their customers, though the chain has also recently struggled to draw Americans as competitors step up promotions and add menu items.
''We want to voluntarily do this,'' said Jan Fields, president of McDonald's USA, as cited by theAssociated Press. ''We believe it will help educate customers," she added.
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According to Bloomberg, the fast food giant will also begin testing healthier items, such as egg-white breakfast sandwiches, 350-calorie sweet chilli chicken wraps and more produce side items, to add to its menu by 2013.
Still, Corporate Accountability International, which has urged McDonald's in the past to stop marketing its food to children, believes that the company's latest move was ''certainly not voluntary.''
The non-profit organisation noted that McDonald's decision came after a Supreme Court's decision this summer to uphold President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, which includes a regulation that would require restaurant chains with more than 20 locations to post calorie information. The mandate could come into effect by the end of the year, says Bloomberg.
Nevertheless, Margo Wootan, a nutrition policy director at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington consumer advocacy group, believes that posting calorie counts on menus will still have a "significant public health impact" in a country where more than one-third of adults and about 17 percent of children are considered obese.
"Nutrition information on websites is pretty well hidden and people don't notice it much," Wootan noted, adding that McDonald's decision "does put pressure on other restaurants to follow suit."
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resently, a Big Mac sandwich at McDonald's contains about 550 calories, while a 12-ounce vanilla milkshake has around 530 calories. The company recently introduced a "Favourites Under 400 Calories" menu, which includes the Filet-O-Fish sandwich, Egg McMuffin and medium fries, in order to attract U.S. consumers.