In an effort to make their kids’ meals a tad bit healthier by reducing excess calories, sodium, and saturated fat, McDonald’s is making a few changes to their beloved Happy Meal and saying goodbye to staple items, including cheeseburgers and chocolate milk.
On Thursday, the fast food giant announced on Twitter that they will be cutting and changing items on their menu to will focus on, “nutrition criteria, simplifying ingredients, transparent nutrition information, recommended food groups, and responsible marketing.”
While diners can still request the “banished” menu items, McDonald’s believes that not listing the item will reduce how often they are ordered. In fact, according to the company, when soda was removed from the Happy Meal section of its menu boards in 2013, there was a 14% increase in the number of Happy Meals with water, milk, or juice as the choice of beverage.
We can expect to see several changes to the Happy Meal menu in the U.S. this year. The meals will have 600 calories or less, with only 10% of those calories coming from saturated fats and 10% from added sugar, and the meals are to have less than 650 milligrams of sodium. The six-piece chicken nugget Happy Meal will switched out with the kids sized fries, cutting the amount of calories and sodium in the serving of fries by half.
By June 2018, 100% of the meal combinations offered in the U.S. will be 600 calories or less, and all those combinations with be compliant with the new criteria for added sugar and saturated fat. However, 22% of the meals will not be compliant with the new sodium criteria, yet.
The evolution of the Happy Meal does not stop there. Currently, 28% of the Happy Meal combinations offered on the menu boards in 20 of McDonald’s major market meet the new criteria. By the end of 2022, McDonald’s aims to have at least 50% or more of the Happy Meals listed on menus worldwide follow the new nutrition criteria. These changes will result in an average reduction of 20% in calories, 50% in added sugars, 14% in saturated fat, and/or 17% in sodium, depending on each customer’s meal selection.
Even the Happy Meals toys are also going to be taking a hit. By 2019, children in more than 100 markets will have the option of choosing a book or a toy year-round with their Happy Meal.
“We recognize the opportunity that we have to support families as one of the most visited restaurants in the world, and remain committed to elevating our food, celebrating the joy of reading, and helping those in need through Ronald McDonald House Charities,” said McDonald’s president and CEO Steve Easterbrook in the press statement released Thursday. “Given our scale and reach, we hope these actions will bring more choices to consumers and uniquely benefit millions of families, which are important steps as we build a better McDonald’s.”