McDonald's plan to remove Happy Meal soda clarified

Oct. 12, 2013 at 12:01 AM
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 11 (UPI) -- Food advocates and McDonald's released an updated agreement clarifying the chain will phase out listing soda on the kids' meal section of menu boards.

Margo G. Wootan, nutrition policy director at the Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington, said on Sept. 26, McDonald's, in partnership with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation -- founded by the American Heart Association and the Clinton Foundation as a response to the growing rate of childhood obesity -- announced that it would cease featuring and promoting soda as a beverage option with kids' meals.

"The fine print of the agreement, however, disclosed that while McDonald's would not depict soda through graphics on the Happy Meal section of the menu, it would still list soda as a Happy Meal option on menu boards," Wootan said in a statement.

CSPI issued a statement on Sept. 27 stating that McDonald's had misled the public and the media about the true extent of it announcement -- because continuing to list soda on menu boards as a Happy Meals option is featuring soda on the menu and is a promotion of sugar drinks to children, Wootan said.

"I spoke to McDonald's and the alliance about my concerns regarding the agreement and urged them to completely remove soda from the Happy Meal section of the menu board," Wootan said.

"A McDonald's spokesman told me that my concerns were brought to McDonald's Donald Thompson, chief executive officer, who agreed that continuing to list soda on the Happy Meal section of menu boards would be inconsistent with McDonald's commitment. I applaud McDonald's for strengthening its commitment and removing soda from the kids' meal section of its menu boards."

Taking soda off the Happy Meal section of menu boards at McDonald's is an important step toward healthier kids meals and healthier children, Wootan added.

"It is a step that should be immediately adopted by Burger King, Wendy's, and other restaurants."

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