The world's largest restaurant company, like other fast-food chains, already has detailed nutrition information posted on its Web site but had resisted calls to post it prominently in its restaurants or on its packaging. The new packaging will be introduced in McDonald's restaurants in North America, Europe, Asia and Latin America starting in the first half of 2006. The company said it expects to have the packaging available in more than 20,000 of its 30,000-plus restaurants worldwide by the end of the year.
In announcing the latest push to improve its image on health issues, McDonald's hailed the move as a first for the fast-food industry and said it demonstrates its commitment to promote balanced, active lifestyles.
"This initiative makes it easier than ever to understand the quality that goes into our food," CEO Jim Skinner said. "We're very confident that the more information people have, the more they will like what they see at McDonald's."
McDonald's has been a magnet for complaints that fast food is unhealthy. It was targeted by the 2003 documentary "Supersize Me," which focused on the health risks of an all fast-food diet, and hit with a lawsuit blaming the company for the obesity of teenage customers, although that suit was dismissed.
The company has long maintained that its food can be part of an active, balanced lifestyle.
The packaging information will consist of icons and bar charts displaying how McDonald's menu items relate to daily recommendations for calories, protein, fat, carbohydrates and sodium.
They will debut at McDonald's restaurants at the Olympic Winter Games in Turin, Italy, in February. A.M.