McDonald's Is Going to Make Happy Meals a Whole Lot Healthier

Feb 15, 2018 at 1:25 p.m. ET
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Get ready to see a healthier Happy Meal menu at McDonald's.

The fast food company announced that by 2022, McDonald's will improve the Happy Meal menu of 120 markets, offering more balanced meals and simplifying its ingredients. McDonald's also aims to be more transparent with nutrition information and "reinforce responsible marketing to children," according to its press release.

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The company's five new global Happy Meal goals include making at least half the Happy Meals listed on menus under 600 calories and under 640 milligrams of sodium with less than 10 percent of the calories from saturated fat and less than 10 percent of the calories from added sugar. For reference, only 28 percent of Happy Meals in 20 major markets currently meet these criteria.

In terms of simplifying ingredients, McDonald's will remove artificial flavors and added colors from artificial sources and reduce artificial preservatives. If you remember, the fast food chain made moves in 2016 in the U.S. by removing artificial preservatives from Chicken McNuggets.

Happy Meal options will soon only include a hamburger and four-piece and six-piece Chicken McNuggets, with the small french fries replaced with kids-size fries in this six-piece meal. You won't see the cheeseburger option, but you can still request it if you'd like it. Lastly, McDonald's will reformulate its chocolate milk to reduce the amount of sugar. Until then, you won't see the chocolate milk option listed, either, but, again, you can ask for it.

Bottled water and the Honest Kids Appley Ever After organic apple juice will both continue to be beverage options.

The improvements to the Happy Meal menu are part of the company's long-term global growth plan and its commitment to Alliance for a Healthier Generation. McDonald's began working with the not-for-profit in 2013 in hopes of increasing its customers' access to fruit, vegetables, low-fat dairy and water.

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"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 Steve Easterbrook, McDonald's president and CEO, in a press release. "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."

When can you expect to see all the aforementioned menu changes in the U.S. specifically? Sooner than you'd expect: by June of this year.

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