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updated 9/22/2005 11:51:49 AM ET 2005-09-22T15:51:49

McDonald's is to invite customers across Europe into its kitchens to see how food is prepared in an unprecedented effort to combat rising concern about obesity and the quality of its ingredients.

The so-called "Open Doors" scheme, which kicks off this weekend and lasts a week, involves 30 countries across the region, where sales of McDonald's burgers, fries and salads are lagging a robust recovery in the U.S.

It comes as McDonald's is in the midst of mailing millions of nutritional leaflets to households in Britain, where the company has been hardest hit by health lobbyists and politicians raising alarm over obesity.

McDonald's has lost a quarter of its sales in Britain in the past five years as health concerns have driven customers away.

Denis Hennequin, president of McDonald's Europe, said: "We must increase trust in our brand. We must get more serious about improving our image in Europe."

McDonald's has reserved a quarter of its total promotional spending in the media in Britain in the second half of the year for the "Open Doors" and other programs aimed at educating consumers about the quality of its ingredients.

Peter Beresford, president, Europe Northern Division, said signs of sharply declining consumer confidence in Britain were also behind the moves, which represented a "massive campaign" aimed at "shifting the consumer perception of our brand".

He said: "Frequency of customer visits [in the U.K.] have dropped as people have been influenced by the economy and trust issues like nutrition."

The effort is part of a broader plan to drive more traffic through McDonald's restaurants at a time of weak economies in Europe, especially in the company's three core markets of Germany, France and Britain.

It also came as McDonald's on Wednesday launched a new advertising campaign in the U.S. highlighting "successful individuals whose first jobs were at McDonald's" – an apparent effort to tackle perceptions that restaurant jobs at McDonald's offer little employment prospects.

Hennequin, who started his career in a McDonald's restaurant, said: "It is unacceptable that with employment levels soaring [in Europe] that opinion leaders denounce working at McDonald's." He did not elaborate on the person to whom he was referring.

McDonald's on Wednesday said it planned to partially float its Mexican-style Chipotle restaurant chain in the first half of next year.

It would also open 150 more restaurants in Europe next year, make $1.8 billion in capital investments globally and raise its 2005 dividend by 22 percent – a tripling since 2002.

© The Financial Times Ltd 2013. "FT" and "Financial Times" are trademarks of the Financial Times.

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