McDonald’s announced yesterday that the Happy Meal is changing:
1. The amount of french fries will more than halve from 2.4 oz to 1.1.
2. 5 Apple slices will be added to each Happy Meal.
3. Low fat chocolate milk will be listed as an option instead of soda.
The change is being rolled out in September cross all US locations.
Additional changes to McDonald’s menu:
1. Gradual 15% sodium reduction in the next few years on non-beverage/dessert items.
2. Removal of caramel sauce from the standard Apple Dippers side, henceforth Apple Slices.
According to a company spokesperson: “We are doing what we can. We have to evolve with the times…our customers are asking us to offer more options.” Read more from the New York Times…
Nutrition experts are divided on this move. Marion Nestle, nutrition professor and one of our favorite food bloggers calls this move a sham, while Michael Jacobson of the Center for Science in the Public Interest sees the silver lining.
Our key takeaway points:
1. McDonald’s has made a brilliant PR move that will further help build its image as a partner in the battle against obesity rather than its cause.
2. The actual changes in consumption habits by children will not be that substantial. We’d love to see how many kids actually eat those apple slices. We’re sure that percentage will be much lower than those wolfing down the fries and taking some from mom’s order. And in any case, the quality of the ingredients in chicken mcnuggets or the burgers is so poor, not to mention the nutritional value.
3. McDonald’s strategy is clear – making parents feel less guilty about feeding fast food to their children, and thus turning them into frequent customers. Right now, the average American child eats at McDonald’s 3 times a month! Moving that up to 3.5 times means billions of additional revenues.
4. While small, the change is significant on one way – it has shown that public pressure works people. The more we push, the more the food industry will listen. The more our elected officials will listen. Are you pushing hard enough for changes to your kids’ foods, and essentially, their future?
Lastly, in case you were wondering, the Happy Meal toy is staying.
What can McDonald’s do to create real change in America’s fast food paradigm?