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BusinessWeek reports that even though McDonald’s remains a burger-and-fries fast food retailer, its new emphasis on quality salads is helping to revive the company’s flagging fortunes.

“Its mixed greens and toppings are bringing in moms and other young women -- exactly the customers it consistently alienated throughout the '90s with lame attempts to expand beyond beef-on-a-bun,” BusinessWeek reports. “Today the $3.99 salads are doing more than boosting profits. They're letting the Oak Brook (Ill.) company recast its image as a place where folks really can get a healthful bite to eat.”

This is a timely move, since the documentary Super Size Me, chronicling the health impact of eating McDonald’s food for 30 days straight, has been enormous – the film is among the five top grossing documentaries of all time, and has garnered an enormous amount of media attention.

The magazine writes, “The company is determined to capitalize on the boost from its conversion to a more healthful menu. It now offers all-white-meat chicken in McNuggets, apple slices (albeit with sweet dipping sauce), and low-fat ‘milk jugs’ as Happy Meal options. The chain has dropped its Super Size fries and soft drinks. And it will keep building its salad line. Tied in with a new Go Active! Happy Meal, McDonald's came out with a fourth version of its entrée greens, the Fiesta Salad, with seasoned ground beef, Monterey Jack cheese, tortilla strips, and low-cal salsa. Several more salads are in testing, including one with fruit and nuts.”
KC's View:
The hardest thing for McDonald’s - and any food retailer, for that matter – is to understand exactly how far the pendulum is swinging on this issue. The company has to remain in touch with consumer desires and even ahead of the curve a little bit…but the moment it seems to be out of synch with what people (especially young people) want, the whole thing could sink fast.

The second hardest thing, at least in our opinion, will be hiring people who know how to fill an order correctly. After months of never getting a complete order right, we recently blew a gasket at the drive-through window…pushed to the edge by a person who only knew enough English to tell us that we hadn’t ordered what we said we’d ordered.

Forget the effect that the company’s food is having on our body. The staff is doing a number on our blood pressure.