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McDonald's Ireland not impacted by US changes - the Happy Meal cheeseburger is here to stay

McDonald’s US last week announced cheeseburgers and chocolate milk will no longer be listed options for Happy Meals.

Image: Rogelio V. Solis via AP/PA Images

MCDONALD’S HAS CONFIRMED that the decision in the US to remove cheeseburgers and chocolate milk from its Happy Meal menu in an effort to cut down on the saturated fat and sugar that children consume at its restaurants will not impact Irish menus.

The fast-food chain in the US said that diners can still ask specifically for cheeseburgers or chocolate milk with the children’s meal, however, it said that not listing them on the menu will reduce how often they’re ordered.

Since it removed fizzy drinks from the Happy Meal menu four years ago, orders for them with Happy Meals have fallen 14%, the company said.

The Happy Meal, which has been around for nearly 40 years, has long been a target of health advocates and parents who link it to childhood obesity. McDonald’s has made many tweaks over the years, including cutting the size of its fries and adding fruit. Most recently, it swapped out its apple juice for one that has less sugar.

Ireland’s approach

McDonald’s in Ireland confirmed to TheJournal.ie that recent changes to the Happy Meal menu announced in the US will not impact on the Irish menu.

“We take our responsibility to families very seriously and in Ireland, we have, for a long time, been committed to evolving our Happy Meal menu to keep in step with what parents want,” a spokesperson for McDonald’s Ireland said.

The spokesperson said that McDonald’s Ireland has “pioneered” an extensive salt and sugar programme in recent years.

They also outlined that there has been an increased choice of Happy Meal combinations, including offering low-fat Irish milk and mineral water as alternatives to the fizzy drink included with the meal.

Fries can also be swapped for carrot sticks or a fruit bag in Irish McDonald’s.

“Not only can you choose these as a side whenever you buy a Happy Meal, you can also always add a fruit bag to the meal for only 50 cent,” the spokesperson said.

Because of these options, McDonald’s Ireland won’t be making changes such as those in the US.

Other US changes

There will be other tweaks made to the US McDonald’s menu too. 

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The six-piece chicken nugget Happy Meal will now come with a kids-sized fries instead of a small.

Bottled water will be added as an option to the US Happy Meal. This is already an option in Ireland.

McDonald’s will make the changes, including new nutritional standards for the Happy Meal changes, by June in the United States.

For all international outlets, McDonald’s Corp said that at least half of the Happy Meal options available must meet its new nutritional guidelines. The company said some are adding new menu items to comply, like in Italy, where a grilled chicken sandwich was added to the Happy Meal menu.

“It’s a good step in the right direction,” said Margo Wootan, the vice president for nutrition at the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

“We would love to see many more restaurants do the same.”

With reporting by Associated Press. 

Read: McDonald’s US to cut chocolate milk and cheeseburgers from Happy Meal menu

More: People who wolf down their food could lose weight simply by eating slower

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