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McDonald’s Announces Changes to Happy Meal

The fast-food chain will adjust its children’s meals into healthier fare.
February 16, 2018

​OAK BROOK, Ill. – Yesterday, McDonald’s announced it major changes to its iconic Happy Meals. By 2022, the fast-food chain will make improvements to the Happy Meal menu across 120 markets to offer more balanced meals, simplify ingredients, continue to be transparent with Happy Meal nutrition information, reinforce responsible marketing to children, and leverage innovative marketing to help impact the purchase of foods and beverages that contain recommended food groups in Happy Meals.

“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.”

Five years ago, McDonald’s began working with the not-for-profit Alliance for Healthier Generation to develop a comprehensive plan for 20 major markets to increase customers’ access to fruit, vegetables, low-fat dairy and water; and many of those markets are ahead of schedule in their progress on those prior commitments. Now, the company is furthering its efforts with Healthier Generation to set five new Global Happy Meal Goals through 2022.

1. Offer Balanced Meals. Using rigorous nutrition criteria grounded in science and nutrition policy, by the end of 2022, at least 50% or more of the Happy Meals listed on menus in each market will meet McDonald’s new Global Happy Meal Nutrition Criteria of less than or equal to 600 calories; 10% of calories from saturated fat; 650mg sodium; and 10 % of calories from added sugar.

2. Simplify Ingredients. As consumers’ tastes and preferences continue to evolve, markets will prioritize Happy Meals and simplify ingredients by removing artificial flavors, added colors from artificial sources, and reducing artificial preservatives where feasible.

3. Be Transparent with Happy Meal Nutrition Information. The company has made a continuous effort to meet consumers’ desire for easy access to nutrition information for menu items it serves with a goal of ensuring that nutrition information for Happy Meals is available and accessible through all McDonald’s-owned websites and mobile apps used for ordering where they exist.

4. Market Responsibly. Under the new goals, all Happy Meal bundles advertised to children will meet McDonald’s new global nutrition criteria, and will continue to meet any existing local/regional advertising pledges with respect to marketing to children.

5. Leverage innovative marketing to help increase purchase of foods and beverages that contain recommended food groups in Happy Meals. McDonald’s recognizes the opportunity it has to make a positive impact using its size and scale to leverage innovative marketing, including packaging and promotions and use of new technologies, such as kiosks and mobile apps, to help serve more fruit, vegetables, low-fat dairy, whole grains, lean protein and water in Happy Meals.

U.S. customers will see accelerated changes to the Happy Meal menu this year. In June 2018, 100% of the meal combinations offered on Happy Meal menu boards in the United States will be 600 calories or fewer, and 100% of those meal combinations will be compliant with the new nutrition criteria for added sugar, saturated fat, and 78% compliant with the new sodium criteria.