McDonald’s introduces calorie-labelled restaurant menus

By Becky Paskin

- Last updated on GMT

All menu items at McDonald's, including its fries (a large portion is 460 kcals), will be calorie-labelled
All menu items at McDonald's, including its fries (a large portion is 460 kcals), will be calorie-labelled
Fast food chain McDonald’s will this week publish calorie information on all its menus throughout its 1,200 UK stores, as part of its pledge to the Government’s Responsibility Deal.

As of 7 September, all diners visiting a McDonald’s branch will be able to see the calorie content of each menu item, from burgers to milkshakes.

The Department of Health hopes the move will encourage consumers to make healthier choices when eating out of home.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said: “One in six meals are now eaten outside the home and for those meals we often have no idea how many calories we are eating.

“That is why this is such a great achievement by the Responsibility Deal. It will help people spot those hidden calories in their favourite foods and keep an eye on their waistlines.”

Almost 40 companies have now signed up to the Department of Health’s Responsibility Deal, pledging to display calorie information on menus and reduce the trans-fat and salt content of food, including KFC, Pizza Hut, Pret a Manger and JD Wetherspoon.

The Government hopes to transform the menus of over 5,000 high street food outlets by the end of the year.

Jill McDonald, chief executive and president of McDonald’s UK, said: “In March we announced our intention to extend the communication of nutritional information to our customers to include displaying calories on our menu boards across the UK.

“This move, as part of the Public Health Responsibility Deal, supports the principles we believe are important: giving our customers clear information to help them make decisions that are right for them and provide a choice on our menu.”

The Department of Health also confirmed that Greggs, Starbucks and Burger King also intend to publish calorie information on their menus from next year.

Brian Waring, vice president of marketing and category at Starbucks UK and Ireland, said: “We are committed to being as transparent as possible when it comes to giving our customers nutritional information and it’s important that we do so in a way that’s useful and easy to use. During our recent trials customers backed the move and told us it was the right thing to do.”

"Question restaurants without calorie info"

Susan Jebb, chair of the Responsibility Deal Food Network said McDonald’s move signalled an exciting time for the British high street, and urged other restaurants to follow suit.

“I hope this example encourages other restaurants to introduce calorie labelling and makes people question what those without calorie labelling have got to hide.”

However many restaurant operators have criticised advice to implement calorie labelling on their menus, many of which change daily or weekly, claiming such a move would be too expensive and time consuming.

Claims have been made that even if operators did publish such information, diners wouldn't necessarily make use of it anyway.

Recent research conducted by the Mystery Dining Company found that while 74 per cent of diners felt calorie-labelled menus would help them to make healthier choices when eating out, over 50 per cent said they would still order their preferred dish regardless​.

A similar study in New York, which made publishing calorie information in restaurants with over 15 sites mandatory in 2008, found that just 15 per cent of diners actually made use of such information​ and chose healthier options.

Related topics: Business, Restaurants, Calorie labelling

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