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Elizabeth Cohen: McDonald's nutrition labels set for Britain

CNN's Elizabeth Cohen
CNN's Elizabeth Cohen

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(CNN) -- McDonald's may be giving British customers something extra with their Big Mac and fries: a calorie count. The fast-food giant plans to put nutritional information on its packages in the United Kingdom.

CNN Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen talked Monday with CNN Anchor Paula Zahn about the move and what customers in the United States could expect.

COHEN: Imagine you're sitting at McDonald's. You're about to sink your teeth into a burger, and then right there in front of you, on the package, you see exactly how many calories and grams of fat you're eating.

Well, that's what they're planning on doing at McDonald's in the United Kingdom. McDonald's in the United States has been keeping mum on whether or not they're planning on following suit.

But we wanted to explain to you if McDonald's in the U.S. did decide to print nutritional information on its labels exactly what they would put. For large fries, what you would see while you were eating your fries would be a sign that said 540 calories and 26 grams of fat. That's what would be in a large fries.

And if you were going to have a quarter pounder with cheese, the label would say 530 calories and 30 grams of fat.

And the big mama of them all -- if you were going to have a Big Mac -- the label right there on the package would say 590 calories and 34 grams of fat.

[It will be interesting to see] if McDonald's in the U.S. also picks this up. Will they also put it in context for their customers?

For example, are they going to say, right there on the package, if you eat this Big Mac, you are having half the fat that you are supposed to have in an entire day in just this one sandwich? And for fries, will they put right there on the label, this is also about half the fat.

That means that when you sit down to have a Big Mac and a large fries, you are having all of the fat you're supposed to have in an entire day. I'm curious to see whether that will end up on the labels.

ZAHN: What do you think? I mean, this has been so widely debated in the food industry. Are you likely to see that context?

COHEN: Some people think that you are likely to see these labels and maybe even the context as well in the United States because of [a recent] lawsuit. Last month, a judge dismissed the lawsuit that accused McDonald's of making people obese, that somehow people didn't realize how many fat and calories were in the food. And it was interesting, the judge dismissed it, but he did give the plaintiffs 30 days to amend their claim, and we're still within that 30-day period, so they may still be able to come back at them.

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