The Healthy Future of McDonald’s

The fast food chain’s future could be anchored by ‘healthy’ food options in the core menu

Wikimedia Commons / Danielk2 / CC BY 3.0

The chain is undergoing serious menu changes.

McDonald’s may soon be known for its commitment to healthy products as much as for its delicious hamburgers — at least, if chef Jessica Foust gets her way.

Foust is McDonald’s corporate chef and a registered dietician, and is part of the team that crafts McDonald’s menu. Despite previous healthy options’ spectacular failures at McDonalds, such as salads and wraps, Foust sees progress toward a healthier McDonalds and wants to keep pushing the company forward. She outlined a five-point plan to Business Insider for the McDonald’s menu’s health revolution.

First is defining what “healthy” means. Fast food chains often create “healthy” options that consumers don’t actually see as healthy. For example, McDonald’s changed the base of its salads from iceberg lettuce to a mix of red lettuce and carrots because, according to Faust, “[the consumers] didn’t feel iceberg lettuce was a nutritious green.”

The next step, Faust said, is to reemphasize the basics. Recently, the company switched from margarine and egg patties to butter and real eggs. The switch came from a consumer push for “real” and “genuine” food, things that were at the heart of the original McDonald’s menu. As a result, sales have doubled.

Then, McDonald’s wants to change its image from that of a greasy hamburger-and-fries stop. By emphasizing healthy options and the ability to do things like swap fries for fruit, Foust believes McDonald’s can create a healthier image.

Foust has already changed certain parts of the menu. Kids meals, for example, used to come with a choice of fries or apple slices, which inevitably led to squabbling between parents and kids. Now, however, meals come with apple slices and fewer fries, encouraging healthy eating among children.

Finally, McDonalds wants to go more local, shown by moves such as the introduction of garlic fries in California, which were such a success that McDonald’s announced they would be served at additional locations.

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