McDonald’s and other fast food chains have had to respond to requests to be more transparent about the nutritional content of their food in recent years. At the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Torino, Italy, McDonald’s first included nutritional information on its packaging. Now this same information is available on restaurant menu boards, brochures, tray liners and online. Just recently, McDonald’s took the next big step in making consumer information readily available, including QR codes on its new packaging on all carry-out bags and fountain beverage cups that direct mobile users to online nutritional content.
Last week the QR codes were released for the first time in the U.S. and they will continue to be released throughout 2013. The text will also be translated into 18 different languages, marking the QR codes as a global initiative. McDonald’s is hoping that its new packaging will help the company communicate its brand through a blend of informative text and illustrations. Customers now have access to unlimited information with their mobile devices, and QR code packaging will help them get connected to McDonald’s much more efficiently.
“Our new packaging is designed to engage with customers in relevant ways and celebrate our brand,” said Kevin Newell, chief brand officer. “Customers tell us they want to know more about the food they are eating and we want to make that as easy as possible by putting this information right at their fingertips.”
In September, McDonald’s began listing calorie information on restaurant and drive-thru menus nationwide. This move is partially motivated by citywide laws on nutrition information, like New York City’s war on saturated fats and laws forcing chain restaurants to publicly post calorie information, as well as consumer data indicating a preference for more transparency. McDonald’s consulted its Global Advisory Council, a group of independent advisors on nutrition, public health and fitness. The group urged McDonald’s to provide customers with access to nutritional information.
At the end of 2011 McDonald’s launched a mobile app for customers with more nutrition information and an online “meal-builder”. These changes, in addition to a recently published nutrition progress report demonstrate that McDonald’s is raising the bar for fast food restaurants and nutrition. Almost a decade after the documentary Super Size Me slammed McDonald’s and the fast food industry, McDonald’s is increasing health awareness proactively rather than waiting for legislation to fall into place.