I don’t go to McDonalds that often, but when I do go, I have a weakness for a few core menu items…Chicken McNuggets, Big Macs & Fries.  Until now, I’ve never taken the time to look at the levels of fat, calories, etc. at McD’s.  Today, however, I came across fatburgr.com, a new site enabling me to access all the product “McDetails.”

When comparing the fat levels of McNuggets to Chargrilled Chicken sandwiches at Chick-Fil-A, it became pretty clear where I should spend more of my fast food $$$ in the future.

SItes like Fatburgr, Project Label and Good Guide are taking product transparency to another level, making it easier for people to gain a deeper understanding of how products impact their health and their environment, etc.  These sites have recognized early that the consumer value equation has started to shift (at least within “Green niche” consumer groups) and they are rapidly responding to develop new widgets and tools to improve consumer decision making.  As a recent report on Transparency from Trendwatching.com put it:

The transparency of everything from production processes to ingredients, to labor conditions, will increasingly influence performance and pricing reviews. The ‘whole’ picture will matter to those consumers who, when looking for the best of the best, take into account not just price or superior quality, but eco, health, social and ethical concerns, too.

GoodGuide is a great example of a start-up company leading the way in providing a transparent repository of info. on the health, environmental, and social impact of products. On the GoodGuide site, you can enter a product name and get a quick combined social, enviro, health product score (on scale of 1-10).  The combined score is based on analysis generated by the expert team at GoodGuide.  The analysis is quite thorough as the team uses 600 criteria (including life cycle analysis, etc).  For “on the go” product analysis, GoodGuide provides a very useful iPhone app as well.

GoodGuide relies on expert analysis in order to build their product analysis dashboard, while Project Label takes a more “digg” like approach, generating triple bottom line labels that look & feel like food nutrition labels.  Information for a company label is generated via input from the global community who add articles to the site.  Other users then read the article and vote on how it will affect the companies’ social nutrition labels.

As my wife drives a VW, I did a quick search to see how the community perceived the company at the moment.  VW scored pretty well (79%), slightly ahead of Daimler (76%) but below BMW (82%).  See the “labeling 2.0” example below.

All three sites (fatburgr, Project Label & Good Guide) are very easy to use and well put together.  It will be interesting to see how the sites evolve along with the Wal-Mart sustainability index (once it arrives).  I personally think that Good Guide has a strong, analytical content platform that could enable it to become a real future game changer.

These new start-ups are pushing the envelope of transparency.  It is still “early days” in this area, but it will be interesting to watch how it all evolves.

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