McDonald's to include calorie counts on menu boards, but will that deter diners?
September 12th, 2012
11:30 AM ET
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McDonald’s president Jan Fields announced today that starting next week, menu boards in the chain's restaurants and drive-thrus will contain calorie counts for all menu items in accordance with the company's ongoing Commitments to Offer Improved Nutrition Choices program.

The announcement came as part of the presentation of McDonald's 2012 Nutrition Journey Progress Report, which highlight's the company's stated goals, including an active interest in children’s well-being, more and better nutritionally-balanced menu choices and increased customer and employee access to nutrition information and education.

While McDonald's will not be the first major restaurant chain to prominently post calorie counts within its restaurants - Panera Bread took that measure in April, 2010 - it will be the largest, serving 25 million customers daily. The move comes in advance of a proposed federal regulation that would require chains to share this information, possibly as early as next year. McDonald's has long provided nutritional breakdowns of its standard menu items on its website.

The chain's press release emphasized its "Favorites Under 400" menu, which highlights individual menu items, such as Snack Wraps, cheeseburgers, medium fries and diet drinks that come in under 400 calories, but as critics are noting, items can quickly add up. A McDonald's standard sized Extra Value Meal with a Big Mac, medium fries and a medium Coke adds up to 1140 calories, 48 grams of fat, 1280 milligrams of sodium and 67 grams of sugar, according to the website's Meal Builder tool.

In addition to the posted calorie counts, McDonald's also plans to expand its healthier offerings, including more seasonal fruit and vegetables options, produce and grilled chicken choices for Happy Meals and new breakfast choices, including an egg-white breakfast sandwich on an English muffin.

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Filed under: Fast Food • McDonald's • News

soundoff (265 Responses)
  1. Zxzero

    I dont see the point in them putting them anyway. Sure its a good thing and may or may not give people a second look but its not going to stop everyone from going in and getting what they eat. And their doing this to "help" us, Honestly its not helping us were still the same as always and even then its just common sense just like eating junk food you know its bad for you but we still do it anyways. So I dont know if a good idea.

    February 26, 2014 at 11:06 am |
  2. KP

    If people are calorie conscious, they would not eat at a fast food restaurant in first place, then what difference it is going to make if these Mac people put calorie count on their menu or not?
    People who are used to eat Big Macs and milkshakes are going to have them anyway.

    September 21, 2012 at 5:26 am |
  3. The other side

    Everywhere you look, you see people talking about obesity and calorie counts. It is very important to eat healthy and excercise, but you never think about the opposite of obesity. There are so many people suffering through eating disorders. They have such a hard time with what they eat and how much. If they went to McDonald's and saw all of the calories of every single item, they would breakdown.
    I know this because someone that means a lot to me has an eating disorder and is under weight. She is at the point where she could be hospitalized and be forced to eat. All I am trying to say is that if people really wanted to be healthy, they can do it. Having calorie counts every which way does not make anybody lose weight. People aren't perfect and they can be obese for all I care. I take care of my self and everyone else has that choice too.

    September 20, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
  4. Thinking things through

    I don't eat at McDonalds, but I do see the calorie information when I eat at Panera's. I just make sure I don't eat out very often to begin with. I am glad McDonalds is making a step in the right direction, although I won't be induced to eat there.

    September 20, 2012 at 7:13 am |
  5. sharc

    I'd like to see them post the ingredients for each item. That might turn some stomachs. For instance, there are 38 ingredients in their chicken nuggets.....And we feed them to children. Ugh.

    September 19, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
  6. Z

    It's good to see McDonald's taking a step in the right direction!

    September 16, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • S'mee

      Hello. Did the alarm just ring? For years most fast food chains have had BIG posters stating the calories, fats and salt for their menus right at their entrance! It appears that their 'diners' just don't bother to look! So what good is the "In Your Face" method going to be? BTW: They still won't show the FAT and SALT!

      September 16, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
  7. dave

    true story. i was going to order a milkshake tonight, and then i saw that 700 calorie thing, and frankly, it just turned me off of it. so, yes. it will cost mcDs $$$

    September 14, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
  8. Dauntae

    I don't think eating at Mc'Donalds is a good idea at all. With a large amount of our beef and chicken produced in mass factory farms the quality is crap; loaded with antibiotics, feces, air-borne diseases and too much more....besides the high calorie, high fat, high salt, at a basic level the product itself isn't the best quality. Shoot, you can make your own version of a cheeseburger which can be incredibly healthier on every level: Everything organic- whole wheat bread, lean black angus (certified organic only) or lean goat meat (another healthier red meat), Veggie Select cheese (non meat soy created cheese), mustard-pesto-hummus/eggplant spread (in place of ketchup or mayonnaise), fresh veggies, oven baked potatoes or fried in olive oil/sunflower seed oil seasoned with herbs (not tons of salt), and a glass of fruit-juice or milk but not pop (nothing but an artificial chemically created product). And there you have your healthy version of a cheeseburger and fries:

    September 14, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
  9. Dauntae

    Why are they only posting calories? I mean I have seen the full nutrition label on the actual boxes of burgers but why not post (alongside the calories on the menu) cholesterol, fat and salt too!

    September 14, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
  10. Cathy Morris

    It will not deter the fat people. they will still continue to eat there twice daily but may get the super sized diet coke.

    September 14, 2012 at 2:31 am |
  11. edwin

    So basically we're saying that we as a society are so lazy that we can't even be bothered to walk over to the framed posted that lists each menu item and its calorie count, we need to see it right next to the item itself? How sad.

    Also, seriously, who's going to McD's thinking that anything they get there will be remotely healthy?

    September 13, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
  12. Leo

    I give them credit, and would ask that they inform even more. My fear is calories are not the only killer here. Salt isn't either. What about ingredients (see pink slime story), saturated fat(s), I would propose a simple three digit number, whereas the first digit (1 to 10) was calorie count (maybe 1=100, etc), the second digit was a sodium #, and the 3rd was how far from it's original state it's been modified. For example, a fruit bowl might have a 4-0-1, but a burger might have a 3-5-7, we could even add a "fiber" # in there. A consumer could quickly see/make informed choices.

    September 13, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
  13. MMR

    If you're going to McDonald's you already don't give a rat's a** about your health, so I doubt it will make a significant impact.

    September 13, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  14. ChewTheDirt

    Come on now, do you really think fat America will stop eating McDonalds because of a few calories? Famous Nutritionist had some interesting thoughts I bet you the calorie count isn’t even accurate, sick portrayal of what we have come to...

    September 13, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
  15. deeceeemee

    I am absolutely NOT trying to argue that McDonald's is healthy–it's over processed and loaded with salt. You will not get a nutrient-rich meal there. However, when it comes to low-calorie, they actually have quite a few options. It's a complete cop-out to assume that everything from McD's is super high in calories, as many people do. The regular hamburger is only 250 calories. The 2 piece chicken strips are 380 cals. Add to that a side salad to one of those and you have a low calorie (and also low nutrient value) meal. Or the small french fries, which are 230 calories.

    September 13, 2012 at 11:46 am |
  16. tannim

    This is a non-story. California has required this for some time, and new federal regs in play do so also nationwide.

    September 13, 2012 at 9:51 am |
    • cowstastegood

      Ewww, California is soooo cooool.

      September 13, 2012 at 10:13 am |
  17. danita

    If fastfood is the only thing making you fat then don't eat their. Most fat people who eat out eat the same darn way at home. Sick of the gov..

    September 13, 2012 at 9:48 am |
    • deeceeemee

      um, the government isn't requiring this. McDonald's is choosing to do it on their own.

      September 13, 2012 at 11:38 am |
      • yeahright

        So McD is going to 'in your face' the calories – whoopee! Burger King and many others have had large signs at the entry containing all the information for YEARS! Nobody eating this junk cares, it's that simple! Eating a burger at McD's is like eating an 11 ounce bag of salted tortilla chips – actually some McD stuff has even more salt. Can you say "high blood pressure"?

        September 13, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
      • LL

        Actually not true and it's in the article "The move comes in advance of a proposed federal regulation that would require chains to share this information, possibly as early as next year. " I'm quite glad, it's a good regulation. I want to see it on all restaurant menus, so I can make good choices when I'm out.

        September 14, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
  18. catglas

    If some of the McDonald's customers we encountered during our visit to Florida this year are anything to go by. I don't really think that adding the calorie count to the menu will make much of a difference to their health and lives.
    I've listed some examples for you to decide

    (1) A woman asked for a cheeseburger meal without the cheese, so you want a hamburger meal madam came the reply, no a cheeseburger meal without the cheese, that is a hamburger meal, can't be, they taste different.

    (2)A guy who was so large he had to eat in his truck as he couldn't fit at a table, ordered 3 Supersized Mac's and a small Diet coke, he was watching his fluid intake.

    (3) The woman who enquired if the salad was suitable for vegeterians, upon being told by the smiling assistant that it was, promptly ordered herself a chicken salad, minus the lettuce and tomato.

    But the ultimate classsic had to be the woman in Miami who walked in and asked the guy behind the counter what the chicken strips were made of, then stood there straight faced waiting on a reply as half the queue burst in to hysterics. All credit to the guy behind the counter for keeping a straight face as he replied that he believed it was chicken but he could check with a manager if she wanted.

    Believe me we have people just as bad as these in the UK. I know as my son worked in McD's for 2 years while at uni.

    September 13, 2012 at 9:38 am |
  19. Colin Morgan

    There truly is nothing more satisfying in life than a slab of pseudo meat the consistency of whale blubber, placed on a stale bun, with wilted lettuce, warm sour mystery sauce, cheese of an orange colour that doesn't exist in any spectrum and rotting tomatoes; except perhaps the strange feeling you have for the rest of the day that resembles a small woodland creature trying to escape from your chest cavity.

    September 13, 2012 at 9:31 am |
  20. Ketchup Stain

    this burt of goody goody goodnes in your mouth is the best try it. all that is required is a McDouble and a McChicken. Simply rip the McDouble in half at the 2 patties then insert the McChicken. Add BBQ sauce or Buffalo Sauce if you please. Its a FAT sandwhich try squeezing it together first. Add a challenge eat it in three bites. Have fun

    September 13, 2012 at 9:21 am |
    • Ketchup Stain


      September 13, 2012 at 9:22 am |
  21. Tr1Xen

    I don't like McDonald's anyhow. Of course, I live in Texas and we have Whataburger here. It's a wonder how McDonald's can even stay in business around here with Whataburger nearby.

    September 13, 2012 at 9:21 am |
    • cowstastegood

      Just like you like it. And I like it alot.

      September 13, 2012 at 10:16 am |
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