McDonald’s Israel announced on Tuesday that it was launching a new, leaner hamburger as part of efforts to improve the nutrition and flavor of its flagship products.From now on, the fat levels in the chain’s most popular hamburger, the McRoyal, will be reduced from 17.5 percent to 9%. The fat reduction makes it significantly leaner than its North American counterpart, the Quarter Pounder, which has 19% fat content. At 380 calories, a Big Mac in Israel has 30% fewer calories than a Big Mac in the United States.McDonald’s Israel owner and chairman Omri Fadan told The Jerusalem Post that the move was the continuation of a process that began in 2003, when the Israeli stores were the first to to use light canola oil in its cooking and was the vanguard in the international chain’s reimaging campaign as a healthy fast-food option. “Israelis’ tastes lean toward healthier foods. In Israel, the preferred toppings on hamburgers are vegetables, whereas in other countries people choose cheese and bacon. The fat content in the meat sold in McDonald’s’ North American restaurants is 20-24%; here it will be 9%,” said Fadan.Fadan said the reduced-fat hamburger also tasted better and had gone through thousands of taste tests across a wide population. He explained that the decision to move to a 9%-fat hamburger had come after testing discovered that it was the best ratio for meat that had gone through the kashering process.“The salt in the kashrut process influences the flavor of the fat. We discovered that with less fat, the product tasted better, and didn’t hesitate to make the move,” said Fadan.Fadan said he enjoyed a great deal of leeway in making changes to the menu and that the parent company in the United States was flexible in its approach to foreign franchisers. “When we decided to move over to a different grilling method because of kashrut requirements, the head office approved it. The parent company determines the overall guidelines and standards, but allows flexibility to local variations,” said Fadan. “In Japan, they sell 60 times the amount of fish we do, so it makes up a bigger proportion of the menu,” he pointed out. “Here, people want more salads. McDonald’s is aware of the local differences and adapts to them.” Fadan is the owner of 153 McDonald’s restaurants in Israel. The most recent restaurant to open was in Ovdat, on Sunday.A new nutritional guide prepared by the company features precisecalculations of the nutritional value of every item on the menu andwill be distributed in the chain’s restaurants in the coming days.McDonald’s Israel was also the first in the chain to mark every product with its nutritional value.The McDonald’s announcement came out in the same week that international rival Burger King decided to leave the country. On Sunday, Burger King’s Israeli franchise owners, Eli and Yuval Orgad,said they would be converting the 55 Burger King restaurants in Israelinto the more familiar Israeli brand Burger Ranch. Company surveysshowed Burger Ranch’s brand enjoyed more popularity. The Orgad brothersalso own controlling stock in Burger Ranch Ltd.