McDonald's to switch to organic, less sugary apple juice in Happy Meals

(USA TODAY) - McDonald's Happy Meals are becoming a bit healthier.

Starting in November, these made-for-kids meals will include organic juice, replacing traditional juice that also contains more sugar.

The new juice is made by Honest Kids, part of Honest Tea, an organic beverage company, which Coca-Cola purchased in 2011. Coca-Cola also owns Minute Maid, which currently supplies the apple juice boxes for Happy Meals.

"This is part of a commitment by McDonald's to raise the bar on our food," said spokeswoman Becca Hary. "We are committed to continuing our food journey for the benefit of our guests."

Customers also can opt for a container of 1% fat milk or fat-free chocolate milk.

A six-ounce Honest Kids Organic Appley Ever After box contains 35 calories, eight grams of sugar and 42% juice and a Minute Maid apple juice box the same size has 80 calories, 19 grams of sugar and 100% juice, according to their respective websites. Both types are made from concentrate.

"We couldn’t be happier!," Honest Tea brand co-founder Seth Goldman wrote on the brand's website. "We hoped one day we would find a way to make these drinks available not just in natural food stores (though we love those stores!), but to all Americans at an affordable price."

The switch to organic, less sugary juice is part of a larger trend to eat more healthily. The fast food industry is often pointed to a reason why Americans, including children, have bad eating habits, which ultimately lead to obesity, heart disease, diabetes and other health issues.

Organic food is more popular than ever. Last year, sales of organic groceries reached $43 billion, up 8.4% from the year before, according to the Washington, D.C.-based Organic Trade Association.

Making this change is an attempt to present Happy Meals as healthier.

"For parents who are part of the more upmarket set the lower-sugar drinks will appeal to, they hope to bring them into McDonald's and view Happy Meals as a better option for their kids," explained Ernest Baskin, an assistant professor of food marketing at St. Joseph's University. "They feel they're losing a bunch of of people who want their kids to healthy."

McDonald's introduced apple slices to the Happy Meal in 2004.

Today, Happy Meal options also include mandarin oranges and Yoplait Go-Gurt low-fat strawberry yogurt.

Follow USA TODAY reporter Zlati Meyer on Twitter: @ZlatiMeyer

© 2017 USATODAY.COM


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