WASHINGTON—The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine—a nonprofit with 12,000 doctor members—says it is irresponsible for the U.S. government to partner with McDonald’s to increase the amount of dairy products used in meals at 14,000 locations beginning April 2. New research shows that just one high-fat meal containing dairy triggers bodily responses that may lead to heart disease.
Scientists working for Dairy Management Inc. (DMI), a corporation overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, worked onsite at McDonald’s headquarters to develop products that use more dairy.
McDonald’s Signature Crafted Recipes sandwiches and the Egg White Delight McMuffin will now feature cheddar cheese slices that are more than 30 percent larger than the version previously used. The chain will also offer three new McCafé Turtle Coffee Beverages, joining a McCafé lineup that offers dairy in 90 percent of its items.
“I’m not lovin’ that the USDA is working with McDonald’s to push 30 percent more cheese on unsuspecting consumers,” says Physicians Committee president Neal Barnard, M.D., author of The Cheese Trap. “Cheese is the No. 1 source of saturated fat in the American diet, which contributes to America’s No. 1 killer: heart disease.”
DMI is funded by the USDA-managed dairy "checkoff" program, which collects money from milk producers to promote and boost dairy sales. DMI spends millions of dollars a year working with fast-food restaurants to develop cheesy, high-fat products and push them on the American public.
DMI has helped to develop and promote products like Wendy’s Cheddar-Lover’s Bacon Cheeseburger and Taco Bell’s Cantina Double Steak Quesadillas. Just last month, DMI announced that it was working with Pizza Hut to add 25 percent more cheese to the company’s pan pizza in 6,000 U.S. locations.
The average American eats 33 pounds of cheese per year. That adds up to more than 60,000 calories per person—mostly in the form of saturated fat. The USDA tells Americans to limit saturated fat and sodium in the Dietary Guidelines, but cheese is the leading source of saturated fat and sodium in the American diet.
Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research and medical training.