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Further evidence that manufacturers with the will to improve the nutritional quality and available information for their food products can, in fact, do so, comes from McDonald's Australia.

Starting yesterday, McDonald's units in Australia are offering eight new "Salads Plus" items - and is stating up front that the new products are a direct result of all the community discussion of obesity issues.

In a press release, the company notes that its CEO, Guy Russo, "has been heavily involved in state and national obesity conferences in the past year and as a result, McDonald’s has heard the community cry for food information, choice and variety and answered with the Salads Plus menu which boasts salads, yoghurt and fruit among its core items." The Salads Plus menu items are described as "a chicken foldover, roast chicken salad, fruit and yoghurt crunch, low fat raspberry muffin, low fat orange and poppyseed muffin, vege burger, garden mixed salad and apples."

In a statement, Russo said that “the eight Salads Plus launch items all feature 10 grams of fat or less a serve and their sugar and salt levels have been carefully considered during product development."

The company said that it "has delivered a Quick Service Restaurant industry first by committing to nutritional labelling on packaging for four of the new menu items. McDonald’s is continuing to review packaging of the regular menu items with a long term goal of including nutritional information on the packaging, traymats or takeaway bags for these items. This information is currently available from the Nutritional Brochure in restaurants or on the web."

"This new menu takes McDonald’s into the future. It is the most important product launch in our business history to date," Russo said. "These new food choices are the latest installment during a year of intense focus on our food, its quality and changing community needs and tastes. Salads Plus isn’t about changing who we are but about extending our range."
KC's View:
Rather than engaging in the typical "it isn’t fast food but lack of exercise that makes you fat" defense, McDonald's Australia is just addressing the issue head on, taking some responsibility, and acting on a clearly defined community need.


Since NFO WorldGroup released a study yesterday revealing that 30 percent of American parents say that they have overweight or obese children, you’d think that companies like McDonald's could be equally direct here - especially since the study also suggested that the parents of overweight children "are more likely to claim the source of their children's weight problem is not at home, but rather lies with food manufacturers, schools and fast food outlets."

Sure, this sounds like a lawsuit just waiting to happen. But it also is a tremendous opportunity to serve the needs and assuage the concerns of those parents - an opportunity that McDonald's Australia seems willing to embrace.