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What It Means to My Family

Meet Moms’ Quality Correspondent, Tonia Welling

Tonia Welling, a stay-at-home mom and PTO member in Arkansas, has fun with her 3 boys and 1 girl, ages 10, 9, 6 and 5. “Playing sports, bike riding and playing games with my family is the best kind of fun for me.”

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My impressions of McDonald's have changed since the beginning of my Moms' Quality Correspondents experience. Before our trips, I didn't think I would learn anything, really, that would change my perception that McDonald's was anything but junk food. Going into McDonald's to grab a meal doesn't leave me feeling completely guilty any more. I know I have options to feed my family a nutritious meal out, just as I am able to feed them a nutritious meal at home. It's all about my choices.

Moms should know that they can choose, and help their children choose, healthier options at any restaurant. I love the Big Mac sandwich just the same as everyone else, but I know, and now my children know, you can't eat it everyday. Balance is the key to any eating regimen.

McDonald's and their suppliers showed us how they get meat and produce from the farm into the restaurants with the highest safety standards. We conducted quality taste-tests for both the produce and the beef. We learned how McDonald's ensures that what they taste is what we taste when we order a menu item. The fact that they can track their food supply back to the farm and that they test and re-test for safety and quality shows me how committed McDonald's is to our eating experience. Not just that it tastes great, but that it's also safe to eat.

I love the close relationship McDonald's has with all levels of their supply chain. Their ultimate goal is to give us, the customers, the best quality and safest product there is. The fact that the suppliers are willing to share ideas with other McDonald's suppliers — like the best way to wash a tomato — goes to show you how committed they are to food safety. McDonald's has very high standards and their suppliers are willing to meet and even exceed those expectations.

A lot of time and effort goes into making new McDonald's food offerings. Chef Dan and his team test an array of ingredients, spices, and flavor combinations to get to the right end product.

Nutrition is also at the root of their creations. McDonald's is not shy about labeling their food products. The "build a meal" page on their Web site and nutrition information on tray liners in their restaurants shows they aren't trying to hide what they sell.

They are giving their customers options. I have to take the time and be as concerned about looking at the ingredients or nutritional information at restaurants as I am when I go shopping at the supermarket. I think the key for McDonald's is finding better ways of getting that information to the customers. We don't always see it, even though it is there, right in front of us.

It has been a great experience. I have changed what I eat at McDonald's. I make sure I am watching what my family and I order, while also allowing us the famous McDonald's items as well.

I am more willing to try new food offerings. Since I tried the Southwest Salad, I have also been willing to try other salads, Premium Chicken Sandwiches and the Chicken Snack Wraps. I look forward to new food items on the menu, both for adults and children. — Tonia Welling