McDonald's announced some new changes to the Happy Meals in its ongoing effort to make them healthier and more appealing to parents who want healthy options for their children.
On Thursday, the fast food giant said it will begin offering reformulated Yoplait Go-Gurt Low Fat Strawberry Yogurt this month. Yoplait, which is owned by General Mills and Sodiaal, created the new yogurt exclusively for McDonald's restaurants. It has no artificial preservatives, artificial colors or flavors and has 25 percent less sugar compared to other yogurts targeted to children.
Coca-Cola's Dasani bottled water will also be an option for a beverage to go with a Happy Meal. The option will be "prominently displayed" on menu boards to make sure parents are aware.
"The voluntary agreements we have negotiated and supported with McDonald's over the past five years have led to increases in customers' access to fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy and water, especially for Happy Meals for kids," Anne Ferree, Chief Strategy and Partnership Officer at the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, said in a statement released by McDonald's. "These latest changes are another step forward towards the goals McDonald's set through their agreement with Healthier Generation in February."
"As a mom, I'm proud we are always working to build a better McDonald's and we're proud to say that McDonald's USA and markets around the world are making progress on our Global Happy Meal Goals," Dr. Cindy Goody, Head of Ingredients and Nutrition, McDonald's USA, added.
In response to growing criticism over the unhealthy food options for the Happy Meals, McDonald's started including Apple Slices in 2012. They also pulled artificial preservatives from Chicken McNuggets, and dropped soda from the Happy Meal line-up.
In February, McDonald's also dropped the cheeseburger and chocolate milk from the Happy Meal line-up, although both are still available upon request, notes Reuters.
And a few months later in September, they announced their classic burgers will also have no artificial preservatives, flavors or added colors from artificial sources. McDonald's noted that their pickles do still have an artificial preservative, but can be dropped it the customer prefers.
The world's largest fast food chain is aiming to make at least half of the Happy Meal items 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. McDonald's is also planning to replace Happy Meal toys with books in at least 100 markets by the end of 2019.
McDonald's does not break down Happy Meals sales, but the data research firm Sense360 estimates that Happy Meals created $10 million a day in revenue last year, reports Forbes.
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