This week, McDonald’s started to include nutrition labels on its menus, and experts expect other fast-food heavyweights to follow suit. However, it’s unknown how soon that McDonald’s competitors will start to make these changes.
Nutrition expert Marion Nestle believes that McDonald’s enacted such changes ahead of the implementation of regulations that the Affordable Care Act requires to generate publicity, as she mentioned in a Sept. 13 blog post. Nonetheless, other fast-food chain restaurants might be inclined to make their menus more transparent, too.
Experts with whom Consumers Digest spoke believe that fast-food chain restaurants that already include healthy options, such as Wendy’s, will jump on the nutrition-label bandwagon next to showcase the variety of options that they offered, according to Christopher Shanahan, who is an analyst at Frost & Sullivan, which is a market-research group.
Shanahan also believes that KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell might be more reluctant to change their menus until the regulations take effect. He says this delay is because these restaurants have fewer healthy options at this point, and it’s unknown how consumers might change their eating and purchasing habits once nutrition information is readily available to them. (KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell are subsidiaries of Yum! Brands.)
Another industry expert, Nima Samadi, who is an analyst at market-research company IBISWorld, says she wouldn’t be surprised if fast-food restaurants that have less-healthy fare begin to create healthy menu items if consumers’ ordering habits shift notably toward such items.
Eventually, all major fast-food and and other restaurant chains would have to adopt menu labeling standards as required by the Affordable Care Act, the rules of which haven’t been finalized by Food and Drug Administration. (FDA didn’t respond to Consumers Digest’s inquiries about when these rules would be finalized.)
– K. Fanuko