"We recognize customers want to know more about the nutrition content of the food and beverages they order," Jan Fields, chief executive of McDonald's, said in a statement.
Over the summer, the fast-food giant has been experimenting with placards listing "Favorites Under 400" -- the items on its menu that have 400 calories or less (such as the cheeseburger, medium fries, the Egg McMuffin and the baked apple pie).
It also plans to unveil an app later this year that will give customers information about calories in its products and help them build a customized meal plan.
The company has also added several healthy menu items, including an egg-white McMuffin, a grilled chicken option for the Happy Meal and seasonal fruits and vegetables like blueberries and cucumbers.
McDonald's already lists calorie counts online, along with total fat, carbohydrates, sodium and protein. The Angus Bacon & Cheese Burger, for example, weighs in at 790 calories; the Big Mac at 550 calories; the McCafe Chocolate Shake at 570 calories; and the McRib at 500 calories.
McDonald's is jumping ahead of the requirements of the healthcare bill upheld by the Supreme Court this summer, which states that all restaurants with more than 20 locations will have to post calorie counts on their menus. The logistics and timetable of that requirement haven't been worked out yet. McDonald's has 14,000 locations across the country. The industry at large has resisted listing calories on menus.
"New York City and Philadelphia already require chain restaurants to post calorie counts, and so far, research seems to show minimal impact on consumer behavior," according to the Times. That is perhaps because people go to fast food restaurants looking for something fatty, greasy and salty, not healthy food, so calories are somewhat irrelevant.
Furthermore, McDonald's attempts at interbreeding between fast food and health food could lead to some Frankensteinian concoctions along the lines of a Great Dane-basset hound puppy. Honestly, who is going to order a Quarter-Pounder with cucumbers? The whole idea makes us Grimace.