New Happy Meal Aims to Help Parents Encourage Children to Make
SAN DIEGO – September 16, 2011 – San Diego County McDonald’s restaurants are among the first in the U.S. to launch a new Happy Meal in support of the company’s recently announced “Commitments to Offer Improved Nutrition Choices,” which strive to help customers – especially children and families – make nutrition-minded choices whether visiting McDonald’s or elsewhere.
Beginning Sept. 16, San Diego County families can order the new meals, which will not be available nationwide until the first quarter of 2012. The new Happy Meal automatically includes Apple Slices (1/4 cup or 1/2 serving) as a side to the choice of Chicken McNuggets®, a Hamburger or Cheeseburger, and choice of beverage, with options including fat-free chocolate milk and 1% white milk. In addition to Apple Slices, the meal also includes a new smaller size French Fries (1.1 ounces). For those customers who prefer a side choice of apples only, two bags of apples will be available upon request.
By adding fruit in every Happy Meal, McDonald’s hopes to address a challenge children face in meeting the recommended daily consumption of produce. McDonald’s has been offering apples as a requested Happy Meal choice since 2004, and while recent research found that 88 percent of McDonald’s customers are aware of the option, the apples are chosen in only 11 percent of Happy Meal purchases.
“As a dad with two school-age children at home, I know that helping kids make good nutrition choices may be a challenge,” said Phil Palumbo, president of the San Diego Owner/Operator Association. “With the new Happy Meal, we’re helping support parents in encouraging their children to enjoy the foods that are good for them along with the foods they love by automatically including both apples and fries as part of a balanced, kid-appropriate meal. We’re excited this new offering will introduce about 100 million cups of produce annually into the diets of our youngest customers.”
The new Happy Meal that includes 4-piece Chicken McNuggets, Apple Slices, new smaller size French fries and 1% low fat white milk or fat-free chocolate milk delivers produce and dairy – two food groups encouraged by the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 and MyPlate – as well as at least 10 percent of the recommended Daily Value for vitamins A and C, calcium and vitamin D. In addition, the sodium in the Happy Meal entrée favorite, Chicken McNuggets, has been reduced by more than 20 percent since 2003. In fact, as part of its national sodium reduction efforts, McDonald’s recently reduced sodium by 10 percent in most of its chicken menu items.
“Recent research has shown that younger children are consuming more fruits and vegetables, but we still have a long way to go to increase consumption to meet daily recommendations for these important food groups,” according to Elizabeth Pivonka, PhD, RD, president and CEO of Produce for Better Health Foundation. “We applaud McDonald’s effort to celebrate produce in every Happy Meal which further strengthens their seven years of support in our campaign to educate children on the benefits of fruits and vegetables."
The new Happy Meal is the latest example of McDonald’s ongoing menu evolution, which has included adding low-fat milk (1991), changing the McNugget recipe so that it’s made with white meat chicken (2003), and offering new Happy Meal choices like Apple Dippers with Low-Fat Caramel Dip (2004). More Happy Meal fruit and vegetable choices are under development and expected to roll out over the next few years.
To reaffirm a commitment to responsible marketing to children, McDonald’s has supported the Council of Better Business Bureau’s (“CBBB”) Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (“CFBAI”) since 2006 involving a voluntary Food Pledge to only advertise products to kids that represent healthier dietary choices. Several combinations of the new Happy Meal will meet the CFBAI’s recently announced more rigorous Food Pledge standards.
McDonald’s USA, LLC, is the leading foodservice provider in the United States serving a variety of wholesome foods made from quality ingredients to more than 26 million customers every day. Nearly 90 percent of McDonald’s 14,000 U.S. restaurants are independently owned and operated by local business men and women. Customers can now log online for free at any of the 11,000 participating Wi-Fi enabled McDonald’s U.S. restaurants. For more information on San Diego McDonald’s, visit www.sdmcdonalds.com, or follow us on Twitter (@MySanDiegoMcD) for updates on our business, promotions and products.
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