Don’t fret — you will still be able to order the Happy Meal you love at McDonald’s. Just don’t expect to receive your usual towering portion. As part of a new health initiative set to take hold by 2022, McDonald’s has pledged to reduce the portion size of their French fries and expunge cheeseburgers from their Happy Meal menu.
By the end of the target year, McDonald’s commits that 50 percent of their Happy Meals worldwide will land below a 600-calorie cap, with less than 10 percent of calories coming from saturated fat, less than 10 percent from sugar, and under 650 milligrams of sodium. Americans can expect to see these changes in 100 percent of all Happy Meals by June 2018, with the exception of the sodium limit — 78 percent of Happy Meals are expected to comply with the 650 milligram maximum.
Cheeseburgers will still be available by special request, but will be omitted from the Happy Meal menu. Other changes include reducing the portion of fries served with a Happy Meal, reformulating the chocolate milk to contain less added sugar and removing it from the displayed menu, and adding bottled water as a beverage choice.
While the meals will be less caloric and fat-heavy, the prices of McDonald’s food will likely not change.
“We do not expect there to be any impact to prices,” Becca Hary, director of corporate communications at McDonald’s, told The Daily Meal. “Our customers are at the core of all that we do. We are never complacent and always listening to and learning from them every step of the way on our food journey.”
The company has long been under public fire for their not-so-nutritious options; McDonald’s is used to being the butt of jokes aimed at larger-bodied Americans and often receives public criticism for contributing to America’s poor nutrition. Now, they seem to be attempting to take their public image in a more health-conscious direction.
The worldwide fast-food chain announced that they plan to introduce new menu options for Happy Meals such as the Junior Chicken, a grilled chicken sandwich that has previously been piloted at McDonald’s Italy.
The American Heart Association released a statement applauding the initiative, stating, “Today, we applaud McDonald’s leadership in offering healthier kids’ meals that will considerably increase consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, water, and low-fat dairy for millions of families globally.”
According to the American Heart Association, “This is an important step in the right direction,” and could influence other fast food chains to make alterations to their menus accordingly.
This isn’t the first time McDonald’s has introduced more nutritious options. They piloted serving apple slices with Happy Meals, for example, and at one point even tried offering kale bowls. Those bowls didn’t exactly catch on, however — there are some failed McDonald’s menu items we’ll just never see again.