McDonald’s announces Happy Meal changes to help parents encourage their children’s nutrition-minded choices. On Friday, Nov. 18, 2011, McDonald’s of Michigan is launching a new Happy Meal in support of the company’s recently announced “Commitments to Offer Improved Nutrition Choice,” which strive to help customers – especially children and families –make nutrition-minded choices whether visiting McDonald’s or elsewhere.
Available nationwide by first quarter 2012, the new Happy Meal automatically includes Apple Slices (1Ž4 cup or 1Ž2 serving) as a side to the choice of Chicken McNuggets(R), Hamburger or Cheeseburger, and choice of beverage, with fat-free chocolate milk and 1 percent white milk as options. In addition to Apple Slices, the meal also includes new smaller size French fries (1.1 ounces). For customers who prefer apples only, an additional bag of Apple Slices is available in lieu of fries.
By adding fruit in every Happy Meal, McDonald’s hopes to address a challenge children face in meeting the recommended daily consumption of produce. McDonald’s has been offering apples as a requested Happy Meal choice since 2004, and while recent research found that 88 percent of McDonald’s customers are aware of the option, the apples are chosen in only 11 percent of Happy Meal purchases.
“As a dad with three school-age children at home, I know that helping kids to make good nutrition choices may be a challenge,” said Jon Campbell, executive board member of the Southeast Michigan McDonald’s Owners Association. “With the new Happy Meal, we’re helping to support parents in encouraging their children to enjoy the foods that are good for them, along with the foods they love by automatically including both apples and fries as part of a balanced, kid-appropriate meal. We’re excited this new offering will introduce about 100 million cups of produce annually into the diets of our youngest customers.”
The new Happy Meal that includes four-piece Chicken McNuggets, Apple Slices, new smaller size French fries and 1 percent low-fat white milk or fat-free chocolate milk delivers produce and dairy – two food groups encouraged by the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 and MyPlate – as well as at least 10 percent of the Daily Value for vitamins A and C, calcium and vitamin D. The sodium in the Happy Meal entrée favorite, Chicken McNuggets, has been reduced by more than 20 percent since 2003. In fact, as part of its national sodiumreduction efforts, McDonald’s recently reduced sodium by 10 percent in most of its chicken menu items.
“Recent research has shown that younger children are consuming more fruits and vegetables, but we still have a long way to go to increase consumption to meet daily recommendations for these important food groups,” according to Elizabeth Pivonka, Ph.D., R.D., president and CEO of Produce for Better Health Foundation. “We applaud McDonald’s effort to celebrate produce in every Happy Meal, which further strengthens their seven years of support in our campaign to educate children on the benefits of fruits and vegetables.”
In 2012, McDonald’s also will raise nutrition awareness among children and parents through national marketing initiatives. The company will promote nutrition and/or active lifestyle messages in 100 percent of its national kids’ communications, including merchandising, advertising, digital and the Happy Meal packaging.
“We know that McDonald’s is a destination for families,” McDonald’s restaurant owner Campbell said. “We want to be a champion for children’s well-being and we know that the steps we are taking will benefit families we serve at our restaurants.”
The new Happy Meal is the latest example of McDonald’s ongoing menu evolution, which has included adding low-fat milk (1991), changing the McNugget recipe so that it’s made with white meat chicken (2003), and offering new Happy Meal choices like Apple Dippers with Low-Fat Caramel Dip (2004). More Happy Mealfruit and vegetable choices are under development and expected to roll out in the next few years.
To reaffirm a commitment to responsible marketing to children, McDonald’s has supported the Council of Better Business Bureau’s (“CBBB”) Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (“CFBAI”) since 2006, involving a voluntary Food Pledge to only advertise products to kids that represent healthier dietary choices. Several combinations of the new McDonald’s Happy Meal changes will meet the CFBAI’s recently announced, more rigorous Food Pledge standards.
McDonald’s USA, LLC, is the leading foodservice provider in the United States serving a variety of wholesome foods made from quality ingredients to more than 26 million customers every day. Nearly 90 percent of McDonald’s 14,000 U.S. restaurants are independently owned and operated by local businessmen and women. Customers can now log online for free at any of the 11,000 participating Wi-Fi enabled McDonald’s U.S. restaurants. For more information, visit www.mcdonalds.com, or follow us on Twitter (@McDonalds) and Facebook (Facebook.com/McDonalds) for updates on our business, promotions and products.