This morning, multiple news outlets in Australia reported that McDonald's is removing cheeseburgers from the Happy Meal menu in a bid to encourage kids to make healthier choices. Don't believe it. McDonald's has confirmed that the Happy Meals cheeseburger is here to stay. Hurrah!
As is so often the case with these sorts of stories, the announcement refers to changes in overseas markets and has nothing to do with the Australian franchise. McDonald's Australia released the following statement to clear up today's confusion:
The Australian business is already well progressed against these global targets. We have a long history of offering healthy choices in Happy Meals and we are constantly looking for ways to enhance our menu.
In short, McDonald’s made a global announcement about its new health targets and local media outlets ran with the irresistible headline about Happy Meal cheeseburgers - even though the news was irrelevant to local McDonald’s customers.
Rest assured, the Happy Meal cheeseburger isn't going anywhere.
With that said, McDonald's Australia is planning to make some health improvements to its Happy Meal menu in the months to come, although these will come in the form of extra options as opposed to ditching existing menu items. As McDonald's explains:
We are continuing to evolve our menu with some changes to be implemented later this year, including looking at new vegetable and protein options.
Our money is on a side of bagged carrot sticks. But please hold your applause.
As we've argued in the past, kids shouldn't be denied the full experience of a Happy Meal. Substituting fries for veggies or fruit is a dick move for a parent to make. If you want your kids to be healthier, buy less McDonald's - but there's really no reason to make an occasional treat slightly healthier.
Are Australian restaurants training children to eat bad food? That's the question posed in a recent ABC News report which took Aussie food eateries to task for failing to provide healthy options for kids. While most restaurants sell diet-friendly options for adults, the children' menu is usually filled with nothing but fried food such as chips and chicken nuggets. Many nutritionists think this could be contributing to Australia's growing problem with youth obesity.
Now, for the most part I agree wholeheartedly with this argument. Children should absolutely be given healthy food choices when dining out. But there's one place where the introduction of 'healthy eating' is a bridge too far. We're talking, of course, about McDonald's. In short. if you make your kids eat sliced apples instead of fries you are pure evil.