spectating participant

October 29, 2005

CalorieLab Calorie Counter News » McDonald’s to add nutrition data to packaging

Filed under: dining, food — suzanne henderson @ 8:51 am

CalorieLab Calorie Counter News » Archives » McDonald’s to add nutrition data to packaging

I have to praise McDonald’s additional step toward consumer education. In the fast food places that I have visited, they seem to be the only one consistently offering nutritional data to their customers. I have seen it printed are large posters, viewable while waiting in line, and accessible pamphlets of information that customers can take home. I have also noticed that they are listing the nutritional facts on the back of their dine-in tray placemats. Having these things readily available versus available only on demand is a check-plus in my book.

Of the complaints against McDonald’s decision, this one really bothers me:

Both Jacobson and Banzhaf complained that customers would not see the nutritional information until after ordering their food, preventing comparison of items. In addition, customers who order multiple items need to add up the values themselves.

The information, prior to ordering, is there (in the majority of the places I’ve visited) and accessible if customers want to know the nutritional content of the meal they are considering. Printing the facts on food labels is more for education for those who don’t really care or who may not be considering the nutritional values. If their food starts showing up with this data on it, many will read it and possibly start reconsidering some of their choices if they are a chronic diner. It is easier to ignore something that is not seen and (hopefully) harder to choke down one’s 3rd double cheeseburger in a week if they are very aware of how it affects their daily nutritional intake.

And the argument about multiple items, come on! No, we do not need to become such a hand holding society that we assume people can’t add. Yes, some may view that simple adding the information to food labels as just an act, but I still see it as a step in the direction of education for responsible consumerism. Do I think we need to print them out a nutritional receipt with their purchase as well, no. Self-reliance and responsibility is still on the individual. The presence of the facts on their food should be enough of an external motivator for dietary change (if they need it or care).

All this being said, there is nothing wrong with eating at McDonald’s and ordering a sandwich high in saturated fat and calories. It is all about taking in account your daily nutritional intake and maintaining the proper balance throughout the day. I have been considering all the information about choosing healthier fast-food options and I considered doing that yesterday when my family went to McDonald’s (something that happens a couple times a year). And then it finally dawned on me that I’d had very little to eat that day, my nutritional intake was extremely low in all categories, and getting my favorite BigMac was not going to hurt me. I understand that for people who eat fast food daily, making healthier choices is a positive step to improved health. But for those of us who are actually on the right track nutritionally, enjoy your favorite items when you go out.