- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 2, 2004

CHICAGO (AP) — Say goodbye to those supersized fries. McDonald’s is slimming down its menu.

The hamburger giant is phasing out its trademark Supersize fries and drinks in its U.S. restaurants as part of an effort to simplify its menu and give customers choices that support “a balanced lifestyle,” a company spokesman said yesterday.

By the end of the year, supersized portions no longer will be available at the nation’s 13,000-plus McDonald’s outlets except in certain promotions, McDonald’s spokesman Walt Riker said.

The move comes as the world’s largest restaurant company, and fast-food chains in general, are under growing legal threats and public pressure to feed consumers in a more healthy fashion.

McDonald’s added entree salads and has been moving to provide more fruit, vegetable and yogurt options with its Happy Meals. But the Oak Brook, Ill.-based company remains a magnet for public concerns and legal actions about obesity.

Mr. Riker said the changes started going into effect in January.

“This core menu, which has been under development since 2002, simplifies our menu and restaurant operations and provides a balance of choices for our customers,” he said.

“A component of this overall simplification, menu and balanced-lifestyle strategy is the ongoing phaseout of the supersize fry and the supersize drink options,” he said.

Two lawsuits claiming McDonald’s hid the risks of eating Big Macs and Chicken McNuggets were thrown out in federal court in New York last year.

But the issue hasn’t disappeared.

An award-winning documentary called “Super Size Me” has heaped on more unwanted publicity for McDonald’s. The documentary, which chronicles the deterioration of filmmaker Morgan Spurlock’s health during a monthlong experiment eating nothing but McDonald’s food, won a directing prize at the Sundance Film Festival and is set for wide release this spring.

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