In 2016, the fast food joint with the famous golden arches removed artificial preservatives from Chicken McNuggets served in the U.S. And now, Mickey D’s is changing up its Happy Meal in an initiative to offer healthier and "more balanced" options.
In a press release published Thursday, McDonald’s announced that, alongside Alliance for Healthier Generation, it has set five new "Global Happy Meal Goals" across 120 markets to complete by the end of 2022.
By this time, the company pledges that at least 50 percent of the Happy Meal menu will be 600 calories or less — 10 percent of those calories coming from saturated fats, another 10 percent from added sugar — and will contain only 650 milligrams of sodium.
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McDonald's is also vowing to "market responsibly" and be transparent in regards to Happy Meals. And the U.S. locations specifically will be seeing an accelerated change this year — instead of 2022, Mickey D's wants to reach these goals by June 2018.
— American Heart Assoc (@American_Heart) February 15, 2018
McDonald's is aiming for one-hundred percent of Happy Meals to meet the reduced calorie, sugar and fat requirements — and for 78 percent to meet the new sodium criteria — by June 2018, which would reduce calories by an average 20 percent, added sugars by 50 percent, saturated fat by 13 percent "and/or" sodium by 17 percent. The press release states that some U.S. Happy Meal combos already meet these criteria and won't be changing.
McDonald's USA Happy Meal Changes
- The Cheeseburger will be taken off the Happy Meal menu.
Now the entrée choices are: Hamburger, 4-piece and 6-piece Chicken McNuggets.
This seemed to be the change people were stressing over the most — but the company said cheeseburgers will be available at a customer's request.
Even still, some people took to Twitter in a panic.
What are they renaming it? A Sad Meal?— CoTay (@BoltonBarnet) February 15, 2018
I'm sure the trend of banishing joy out of the lives of children won't have any negative consequences. pic.twitter.com/VbVenQ9mnP— ❤Parkland Dailey🐻 (@DaileyOfficial) February 15, 2018
Others claim this change is a good thing — or that it's not enough of one.
I think at this point it's nearly impossible for McDonald's to "shake its junk-food image."— Von Vino (@Tivon_Vino) February 15, 2018
- Small French fries will be replaced with kids-sized fries in the 6-piece Chicken McNugget meal.
This will decrease the fries' calories and sodium count by 50 percent.
- Chocolate milk will be taken off the Happy Meal menu temporarily.
The company is "reformulating chocolate milk to reduce the amount of added sugar," but the drink will be available at a customer’s request.
- Bottled water will be added as a featured beverage.
This change will happen later this year.
Why the Happy Meal change?
According to the American Heart Association, roughly 42 percent of U.S. kids ages 2 to 9 "eat fast food on a given day," and CNN Money reports that McDonald's sells more food to kids and families than Burger King and Wendy's.
CNN Money also reports that an estimated 15 percent of McDonald's customers order Happy Meals.
"Today's announcement represents meaningful progress to impact kids' calories, saturated fat, sodium and added sugar in Happy Meal bundles as offered on menu boards — and to promote more water," Dr. Howell Wechsler, Chief Executive Officer of Alliance for a Healthier Generation, said. "This sets a high bar, and we hope other industry leaders will follow suit."