ROSELAND, N.J., Sept. 12, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- McDonald's New York Tri-State area restaurants will launch a new Happy Meal this week in support of the company's recently announced "Commitments to Offer Improved Nutrition Choice" which strives to help customers – especially children and families – make nutrition-minded choices whether visiting McDonald's or elsewhere. All local McDonald's restaurants in the New York Tri-State area will have the new Happy Meal available by Friday, September 16.
Available nationwide by the first quarter of 2012, the new Happy Meal will automatically include Apple Slices (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, of which fat-free chocolate milk and 1% white milk will be options. 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 the 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.
"We're proud to be among one of the first regions in the country to debut the new Happy Meal," said Mason Smoot, Vice President and General Manager, McDonald's New York Metro Region.
"The new Happy Meal is part of our ongoing commitment to give parents real choices in the New York Tri-State area by providing both apples and fries, as well as adding the new drink option of non-fat chocolate milk."
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 daily value for vitamins A and C, calcium and vitamin D. In addition, the sodium in the Happy Meal entree 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," said 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 its commitment to responsible marketing to children, McDonald's has supported the Council of Better Business Bureau's Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI) since 2006, which involves 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.
ABOUT McDONALD'S NEW YORK TRI-STATE RESTAURANTS:
McDonald's is one of the world's best-known brands and is a global leader in food service. There are more than 600 McDonald's restaurants, owned by over 100 franchisees, located throughout the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut Tri-State. Visit www.mcdonaldsnymetro.com or follow us on Twitter @McDNYTriState for information about other McDonald's area programs.
SOURCE McDonald's New York Metro Region