updated - May 25, 2013 Saturday EDT
As one of the official sponsors for the London Olympics 2012, McDonald's is trying to improve its image as a healthy foods option by rolling out a new feature that offers calorie information.
McDonald's introduced a nutrition QR code on packaging at its restaurants at the Olympic Park in London. Customers hold up their smartphones to the code to find out detailed nutritional information. The QR code will roll out to a majority of McDonald's restaurants by 2013, says Kevin Newell, chief brand officer.
"We know that transparency about ingredients is very important to our customers. Putting QR codes on our packaging adds a whole new dimension to our nutrition information that's available here at the London Olympics. We're taking a step forward with QR codes that gives a deeper look at that information," Newell said in a statement.
Newell said their efforts to change the company's image will be global. In the US McDonald's introduced a specific under-400 calorie menu board to help customers make healthier choices. In Canada, McDonald's has introduced a "YourQuestions" campaign which sees it address questions posed by consumers, in a bid to dispel myths about the chain's food.
For the first time at the Olympic Games, children's Happy Meals will also include a fruit, vegetable or low-fat dairy option.
McDonald's and Coca-Cola have come under fire for sponsoring the Olympic Games as the company's are usually associated with unhealthy eating and fueling the obesity epidemic in countries like the United States and the United Kingdom.
Meanwhile, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver lent his star-powered name to an open letter published in the UK Times newspaper, lambasting professional athletes like David Beckham for shilling junk and fast foods and sending out the wrong message to their impressionable young fans. Beckham endorses Diet Pepsi.
With one in three children in Britain overweight or obese by the age of nine, we have a public health crisis that requires urgent intervention," the letter reads. "We would ask athletes to be very conscious of the effect their endorsements may have on the future lives of youngsters."
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