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McDonald’s Begins Posting Calories on Menu

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Starting today, the world’s biggest burger chain will begin posting calorie counts on its menu boards and drive-thru menu signs in all USA locations.

McDonald’s is taking the action voluntarily, ahead of the government mandate for chain restaurants, scheduled to take effect next year as part of the Affordable Care Act. Under the health care bill upheld by the Supreme Court this summer, all restaurants with more than 20 locations will have to post calorie counts on their menus. The regulation is currently under review by the Food and Drug Administration.

“We recognize customers want to know more about the nutrition content of the food and beverages they order,” Jan Fields, president of McDonald’s USA, said in a statement.

The hamburger giant has also unveiled a number of new menu additions seen as healthier customer options, including an egg white McMuffin, a grilled chicken option for the Happy Meal and seasonal fruits and vegetables like blueberries and cucumbers.  

Analysts say McDonald’s move to post calories on the menu could put pressure on other fast food chains to follow suit. Wendy’s and Burger King had no comment when the McDonald’s announcement came down. Panera Bread, a much-smaller bakery/café chain (compared to McDonald’s) has been posting calorie counts on menus for more than two years.

McDonald’s has been experimenting this summer with in-store signage listing “Favorites Under 400,” promoting items on its menu that have 400 calories or fewer. This fall, some 750,000 of its employees will be able to participate in an e-learning program about nutrition, calories and the company’s menu to help them answer customers’ questions.

Whether or not all this will have much of an effect on consumers’ purchase habits remains to be seen.

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