U.S. McDonald's to put calorie counts in lights

Wed Sep 12, 2012 1:20pm EDT
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By Lisa Baertlein

(Reuters) - A Big Mac and large fries? They'll cost you 1,050 calories, and beginning next week, McDonald's will tell its customers that in bright lights on its fast-food menus.

The world's No. 1 hamburger chain said on Wednesday it is going to start listing calorie information on menus in some 14,000 U.S. restaurants and drive-throughs - ahead of a national rule that will require larger restaurant chains to make such disclosures.

McDonald's Corp is a trend setter for restaurants and its move in this arena - while prompted by regulations and pressure from public health activists - is likely to force other restaurant operators to follow quickly.

The state of California and cities like New York already require that calories be clearly listed on menus. Under the new U.S. healthcare law, restaurants across the country must soon put calorie counts and other nutrition details on menus.

The national rules target restaurants with 20 or more locations, as well as other retail food outlets. Most major chains have resisted posting such information, without legislation and the threat of fines.

The date for national compliance has been delayed and is not expected to be set until after the U.S. presidential election.

McDonald's was slow to warm to calorie labeling.

When labeling proposals were gaining steam several years ago, McDonald's representatives publicly opposed them. A common complaint was that rules from one jurisdiction to another were inconsistent. Some officials also said calorie disclosures would violate customer privacy.   Continued...

A U.S. flags flutters in the wind in front of a sign for a McDonald's restaurant in Los Angeles April 4, 2011. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni