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Sunday 15th September 2019

McDonald's adds calorie counts to menus

18th September 2012

US hamburger giant McDonald's has announced that it will start putting calorie counts on menus in it restaurants from this week.


Diners will be informed at the point of ordering exactly how many calories are in what they are eating. A Big Mac, for example, contains 550 calories, while a large order of french fries contains 500 calories.

The world's biggest hamburger empire announced the change this week, which will see calorie counts listed on menus across some 14,000 restaurants and drive-thru outlets around the world.

However, analysts say the move will soon become a compulsory measure for all restaurants, so McDonalds is simply taking advantage of a little early publicity, ahead of the competition.

In California and New York city, local legislation already requires restaurants to list calorie counts clearly on menus.

But the new US healthcare law will require the measures to be rolled out around the country in larger companies with big chains. Under the new rule, calories and other key nutrition details must be listed on menus in any restaurants with outlets in 20 or more locations.

A previous lack of legislation has meant that most major food chains have resisted doing this so far.

Under fire from public health experts and consumer groups, McDonald's has already changed its menus to offer more healthy choices.

The portion of french fries offered with the popular children's Happy Meals options has been halved, and apples are automatically added to every order.

President Obama's Affordable Care Act was ruled constitutional by the US Supreme Court earlier this year, putting clear nutritional labelling firmly on the political agenda amid a growing obesity epidemic.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued new guidelines for nutritional information in restaurants in April, in line with the Act.

Restaurants not mandated under the new law can still opt in to the requirements, the FDA said, adding that providing calorie and other nutrition information in restaurants and similar retail food establishments would help customers to make healthier dietary choices.

It said that the over-consumption of calories was the primary risk factor in the obesity epidemic, meaning either that people are eating more than they need, or that they are not exercising enough to burn off the excess they consume.

It said that US households increasingly rely on restaurant and take-away food to supply family meals.

Americans now consume an estimated third of their total calories on foods prepared outside the home, spending almost half of their annual food budget on such food, the FDA said in a statement on its website.

"Consumers are generally unaware of, or inaccurately estimate, the number of calories in restaurant foods," it warned, citing a recent survey of 193 adults which showed that people underestimated the calorie content of supposedly "healthier" food choices by almost half.

The underestimated calories averaged about 650 calories per item.

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