SAN DIEGO — Responding to pressure from attorneys general in California and 11 other states, five of the nation's largest fast-food restaurants have agreed to disclose to consumers what's in their food, state officials announced Tuesday.
Burger King, Jack-in-the-Box, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Wendy's restaurants agreed to disclose calorie counts, ingredients and food additives, as well as protein, carbohydrate, cholesterol and sodium levels of their food in company-owned outlets. McDonald's announced its disclosure plan on Monday.
Each restaurant also will provide a hotline to answer consumer questions, and franchisees can provide the information on a voluntary basis, state officials said.
"American fast-food consumers not only deserve a break today, they are finally going to get one," California Atty. Gen. John Van de Kamp said at a press conference here to announce the agreement.
The chains--which to date have provided the information only upon request--have negotiated with state officials since May, and McDonald's agreed to participate in the California settlement last week, Van de Kamp said.
Chicago-based McDonald's Corp. has spent more than $1 million on a similar disclosure project on the East Coast, inaugurated last month, according to Charles Rubner, assistant vice president.
Representatives of the other fast-food chains said they have not yet calculated how much the ingredient information campaign will cost them. However, William Rulon, senior vice president for San Diego-based Foodmaker Inc., parent of Jack-in-the-Box, said: "This is going to be an astronomical cost. . . . There is no question that this will result in higher prices for the consumers."
Most restaurants and fast-food chains provide nutritional information only from their corporate headquarters.
"We have provided the information since 1979," said Gregg Reynolds, vice president for public relations at Louisville-based Kentucky Fried Chicken Corp. "We might get 200 to 500 requests a year. It will be interesting to see what the public response will be; I have a feeling that there is not going to be a land rush to this information."