McDonald's slims down Happy Meal by banishing cheeseburgers

McDonald's cheeseburger

And that's not all, the fast food chain is also limiting the amount of saturated fat, added sugar, and sodium in each meal.

McDonald's's announcement, in fact, makes a point of stating that "under the new goals, all Happy Meal bundles advertised to children will meet McDonald's new global nutrition criteria, and will continue to meet any existing local/regional advertising pledges with respect to marketing to children".

Starting this year in the USA, cheeseburgers will no longer be listed as a Happy Meal choice, but will still be available upon request. For now, little ones can pick between a hamburger and the 4-piece and 6-piece Chicken McNugget meal. It will also look to simplify ingredients by removing artificial flavours, added colours from artificial sources and removing artificial preservatives where feasible.

McDonald's regulars will see changes to the Happy Meal menu as early as June 2018, when 100 percent of the meal combinations offered on Happy Meal menu boards in the US will be 600 calories or fewer, and 100 percent of those meal combinations will be compliant with the new nutrition criteria for added sugar, saturated fat, and 78 percent compliant with the new sodium criteria, the company announced on February 14. Customers will need to request chocolate milk as part of a Happy Meal from June. It stopped promoting cheeseburgers as part of the Happy Meal in the United Kingdom over ten years ago.

The company called its initiative part of "an expanded commitment to families" that includes improvement of the nutrition in its Happy Meals.

Later this year, bottled water will be added as a featured beverage choice on Happy Meal menu boards, however, it will cost extra.

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This isn't the first time McDonald's has made moves to make Happy Meals healthier.

The company also says it will aim to use its size and scale to leverage innovative marketing to "help serve more fruit, vegetables, low-fat dairy, whole grains, lean protein and water in Happy Meals", according to the company release.

Wong noted the anti-obesity lobby will not be happy until kid-friendly meals are taken off menus entirely, "but most parents believe Happy Meals are a treat or bribe, and believe that as long as consumption is limited to special occasions, their child is not at risk".

American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown issued the following statement today on new commitments from McDonald's and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. We urge restaurants around the world to follow suit and promote better-for-you food and beverage choices.

"As a nutritionist and a mom, this is a pivotal moment as we unveil new, ambitious goals in collaboration with Healthier Generation that we hope will positively impact families around the world", said Julia Braun, MPH, registered dietitian and head of global nutrition at McDonald's. "We're committed to exploring new options".


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