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The McDonald’s Corp. has bowed to pressure from health and children’s advocacy groups and will introduce changes to its trademark Happy Meals. The new meal will include a serving of fruit or vegetable and lower the portion of french fries from 2.4 ounces of potatoes to 1.1 ounces.
The new menu was announced Tuesday and will take effect from September in selected markets. By April, the fast food chain expects all restaurants in the U.S. to have implemented the change.
The president of McDonald’s, Jan Fields, said on Good Morning America: “What we’re doing is offering fruit to every child that comes into McDonald’s, to it is an automatic.” The company, which has long been criticized for peddling unhealthy food to children, according to CBS News, has stated “We recognize the importance of fruit in a child’s diet.”
Alongside the reduced French fry serving, a side dish of apple, carrots, raising, pineapple slices or mandarin oranges will be included, depending on the season and the region, reports the LA Times. On average the new meal will represent a 20% decrease in calories.
Critics of the world’s largest restaurant chain have challenged the practice of selling kids meals with toys with have little nutritional value, connecting it with the United States obesity crisis. Legislation have already been put in force that bans meals with toys if they do not live up to certain nutritional criteria. According to the LA Times, McDonald’s spokeswoman Danya Proud has said “We know we’re a leader and we know we need to be part of the solution.”
But she adds, “we can’t be looked at as providing the only solution.”