McDonald’s released a statement on Thursday announcing that there will be no more cheeseburgers in its Happy Meals. In a move for more healthy options on its menu, the company is making a push to have all of its Happy Meals to have 600 calories or fewer by this June.
In addition to eliminating cheeseburgers from its Happy Meal menu, McDonald’s will also be cutting the sugar content in its chocolate milk as well as adding bottled water as a drink option for Happy Meals. Customers will still be able to request a cheeseburger or chocolate milk in their Happy Meal, but it will not be listed on the menu.
Instead, the only Happy Meal options will be a hamburger or chicken McNuggets. In addition, McDonald’s will also be reducing the portion size of fries that come with Happy Meals. There may be no more cheeseburgers in Happy Meals (unless requested), but there may soon be a grilled chicken sandwich, which was introduced in Italian McDonald’s last month.
For comparison, a McDonald’s cheeseburger has 700mg of sodium and five grams of saturated fat, while a plain hamburger has three grams of saturated fat and 510mg of sodium. The four-piece Chicken McNuggets end up being the healthiest of the three options at 1.5 grams of saturated fat and 300mg of sodium.
McDonald’s has extended the mandate of more healthy options to its international locations as well. McDonald’s Australia has already been exploring options that include leaner proteins as well as more vegetables, and McDonald’s France has taken similar steps. McDonald’s Canada has already included yogurt and apple slices as Happy Meal options.
In the statement released Thursday, McDonald’s also claimed that they will make a move toward more responsible marketing toward children. “By positioning their meals as healthier, McDonald’s is likely attempting to make the decision easier for the parents,” said Ernest Baskin, a professor of food marketing at Saint Joseph’s University.
Julia Braun, the head of global nutrition at McDonald’s, said: “Customers are looking for options today they can feel good about eating.” The company has been trying to overhaul its image for the last few years and is taking steps to convince people that they are more than just junk food. “It’s a journey,” said Braun, “It’s a delicate balance.”