Wednesday, February 07, 2007

McDonalds : Good For The Heart?

Nine Maccas Meals Approved By The Heart Foundation

Ever since the UK McLibel trial of the early 1990s exposed the questionable quality, product sourcing and preparation standards of McDonalds' fast food, the global hamburger giant has spent billions re marketing itself as a "healthy" fast food alternative to, say, a bowl of green salad.

They now sell green salads, of course - along with the deliciously greasy double-meat, double-cheese burgers - and this has won the company the right, in Australia at least, to claim some of its food is good for the heart.

Australia was one of the first countries in the world to test-trial McDonalds salad range and low-fat yoghurt's and fruit salads and sandwich 'wraps'.

The move wasn't exactly a monster success for the first couple of years, but they've gradually clawed themselves a new market amongst vegetarians and people who used to feel their clogged chests tighten when they panted the words "Two Quarter Pounders and a large fries, please."

The move by the Australian Heart Foundation to allow McDonalds to put its widely-respected 'tick' logo on some food products is going to be enormously controversial, particularly since McDonalds also had to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to get the "clearance" to do so from the Heart Foundation.

But Australians are buying the 'fresh food' and 'vegetarian' alternatives on offer from McDonalds in greater numbers than they were three or four years ago.

And with the Heart Foundation's approval, they are now likely to buy a whole lot more of those healthier fast food options in the future.

Along with an occasional large fries.

From ABC Radio's 'The World Today' (excerpts) :
For the first time McDonald's has received the Heart Foundation 'tick of approval' for nine of its meals.

It's an unlikely liaison between a fast food giant and a guardian of healthy eating, and undoubtedly the best advertising a fast food outlet could have.

JANE COWAN: For years a trip through the Golden arches has been laden with guilt, as well as fat....

Susan Anderson from the Heart Foundation...makes no apology for the Heart Foundation venturing into the world of fast food. She says McDonald's is feeding thousands of Australians every day and has genuinely lifted its game.

SUSAN ANDERSON: We've given them a tick of approval for meeting some very strict standards, because we know people are there, we know that they're not curbing their dietary patterns by not going to these sorts of places, so it is much better that they have a healthier choice when they're there.

JANE COWAN: Catherine Saxelby is a Sydney-based nutritionist. She concedes she was surprised to hear McDonald's had won the tick, but pleased.

CATHERINE SAXELBY: Look, in an ideal world I would love to walk into a fast food outlet where everything was healthy, was low in fat, high in fibre, lots of vegetables, lots of salad, but it isn't available, and when I'm driving on the highway and I have to stop at McDonald's because it's the only place available, at least there are healthier choices.

So there you go, even nutritionists now admit to eating McDonalds, after guilt-tripping everyone else for years about scarfing down a 3am Big Mac to quell a gut full of roiling booze.

Weird Fact : One of the founders of the Heart Foundation was a man named Sir Warren D'Arcy McDonald.