McDonald’s Finally Taking Soda Off Happy Meal Menu, For Real This Time
They made the same claim last month – declaring that they would only promote water, milk and juice as beverage choices for children. Only, they were totally full of it and clearly just trying to get some good press without really doing anything. In the fine print, their “commitment” stated:
McDonaldâ€™s will agree to the following commitments by 2020 for 20 major markets representing 85%+ of global sales:
Feature only water, milk and juice as the beverage in Happy Meals on menu boards and in-store and external advertising directed to children…
Note: Feature means placing an emphasis, such as, by showing in a photograph. McDonald’s may depict cups with beverages other than sugary
sodas, such as milk, juice and water; McDonald’s may list soft drinks as offering on Happy Meal section of menu boards.Â
Wait, what? So, you will still be offering sodas on menu boards. You just won’t be using photographs of sodas to advertise your Happy Meals. Sneaky.
Luckily, organizations like theÂ Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) exist, to hold McDonald’s to their promises:
CSPI quickly cried “false advertising!”, arguing that if the company is keeping soda on the kids’ menu, it is in fact promoting it as a drink for kids. McDonald’s CEO Don Thompsonâ€”who earlier this year was publicly shamed by a nine-year-old girl for marketing unhealthy food to childrenâ€”actually agreed.
As a result, McDonald’s released an updated commitmentÂ to indeed begin phasing soda out of it’s Happy Meal offerings.
Can we all agree that a Happy Meal is not health food? I think it’s possible to acknowledge this while still admitting that occasionally fast food is a great option for strapped, busy parents. We don’t have to pretend like it’s the best option to admit that sometimes it is a necessary one. And we don’t need companies like McDonald’s using tricky advertising strategies to convince us otherwise.