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Neighbors Growing Together | Feb 21, 2018

McDonald’s plays ‘hide the cheeseburger’ in new health push

By Lisa Baertlein, Reuters | Feb 15, 2018

LOS ANGELES - McDonald’s Corp is removing cheeseburgers from U.S. Happy Meal menus and shrinking the french fry serving in one “Mighty Meal” as part of a new global plan to cut calories and make its food for children more healthy.

The changes announced Thursday come as the world’s biggest fast-food chain for the first time established global limits for calories, sodium, saturated fat and added sugar in Happy Meals, which consultants and franchisees say account for roughly 15 percent of sales in the United States.

By 2022, McDonald’s aims to have at least half of the Happy Meals listed on its drive-thru, restaurant and digital menus around the world contain 600 calories or less, 10 percent of calories from saturated fat, 650 mg of sodium, and 10 percent of calories from added sugar.

The chain’s U.S. restaurants will continue to offer Happy Meal cheeseburgers on request, which nudges diners to change behavior. When it did the same thing with Happy Meal sodas in 2013, some customers switched to water, milk or juice.

McDonald’s said it will reduce calories and sodium from its six-piece chicken McNugget Mighty meal for older children by halving the french fry portion size.

The company also is adding bottled water to Happy Meal menu boards and offering chocolate milk on request as it is reformulated to reduce added sugars.

Currently, 28 percent of Happy Meal combinations offered on menu boards in 20 of McDonald’s major markets meet the new criteria. In June 2018, McDonald’s USA will hit the new calorie, sugar and fat goals and be 78 percent compliant on sodium.

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