(March 17) CHICAGO — McDonald’s Corp. is revamping its salad offerings.

The Oak Brook, Ill.-based hamburger giant is working with Paul Newman on a rollout of a new line of entree-sized salads served with the actor’s Newman’s Own dressings.

The salads include a spring mix and grape tomatoes and come with or without a choice of bacon bits or sliced chicken.

FAREWELL TO SHAKER SALADS

The line replaces the shaker salads that McDonald’s had offered, said Dave Bates, a supervisor at a McDonald’s restaurant in Lenexa, Kan. Calls to the burger firm’s corporate offices were not returned.

“We’ve had them about a week,” Bates said March 13. “They have been selling very well.”

Some analysts have suggested that the move is motivated more by a desire by McDonald’s to answer critics who charge the fast-food king with having contributed to obesity in the U.S.

SALES DECLINES

It also comes at a time when McDonald’s was reporting its 12th consecutive monthly decline in sales.

The chain in January reported its first quarterly loss ever, having been wrestling with a slowdown in the U.S. fast-food market, changing consumer preferences and numerous other seasonal and ongoing issues.

“I do think this is really a wise move on their part,” said Edith Garrett, president of the Alexandria, Va.-based International Fresh-cut Produce Association. “It’s certainly where the consumer is going. I know McDonald’s has been dealing with some real challenges with their sales and their image in regard to the rise in obesity in the U.S.”

McDonald’s is the largest restaurant chain in the world, with more than 30,000 outlets.

It’s not the first move of its kind in the U.S. fast-food industry. Wendy’s International Inc., Dublin, Ohio, the No. 3 hamburger chain, has dominated the salad market with its Garden Sensations line, which the company said boosted sales about 10% after they were introduced early in 2002.