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McDonald’s on Low Fat Bandwagon

April 23, 1991

CHICAGO (AP) _ It’s better for you than a Big Mac but not as good as fruits and vegetables, nutrition experts say of McDonald’s Corp.’s new McLean Deluxe.

″If you were going to have a salad, you’re better off with the salad,″ said Bonnie Liebman, director of nutrition for the Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington.

″This is leaner than any other ground beef you can buy,″ said Liebman. ″It certainly is an improvement. But it is not low fat.″

Anti-cholesterol crusader Phil Sokolof - who last summer took out full-page ads in several newspapers to blast McDonald’s for the fat content of its food - said McLean Deluxe is a marked improvement over other hamburgers McDonald’s sells.

″This is not a health food,″ Sokolof in an interview Monday from his Omaha, Neb., office. ″But Americans are going to eat hamburgers. and this is a revolutionary hamburger. It has less than half the fat of the conventional burger.″

McDonald’s began selling the burger at its 8,500 U.S. restaurants on Friday.

The sandwich resembles other McDonald’s offerings: a beef patty on a sesame seed bun with lettuce, tomato, pickles and catsup. But the difference is in the beef. It’s 91 percent fat free after cooking, spokesman Chuck Ebeling said Monday.

Even so, the McLean sandwich, including trimmings, contains 320 calories and 10 grams of fat. Those amounts compare with 580 calories and 36.8 grams of fat in the McDLT sandwich.

One reason for the lower fat content is an additive McDonald’s has added to the burgers called carrageenan - a seaweed derivative.

Consumers gave McLean Deluxe mixed reviews.

″It tastes the same as the other hamburgers,″ secretary Kathy Mulgaren said as she sampled the McLean Deluxe at a McDonald’s in New York’s Rockefeller Center. ″I feel less guilty when I eat it.″

Janice Mosher, 31, sampled a McLean DeLuxe for the first time Monday at a McDonald’s in downtown Grand Rapids, Mich.

″To me, all the burgers taste pretty much the same anyway,″ she said. ″So if I can save a few calories with this one, I’m all for it.″

Ebeling said the new burger is selling well, but declined to provide sales figures or comparisons with the fast-food giant’s other burgers.

″Hamburgers are a substantial part of our business,″ said Ebeling. ″We expect McLean to be a substantial part of that.″

The new sandwich ranges in cost from about $1.78 to a little more than $2 without cheese, depending upon the area of the country, roughly comparable to the price of a Big Mac or McDLT.

″Customers love (the McLean). They’re quite surprised at how it tastes,″ said Rich Weinstock, owner of a McDonald’s in northeast Portland, Ore. ″They’re used to hamburgers at other places that are low-fat that don’t taste good. They’re selling a lot.″

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