Healthier kids’ meals? Panera’s chief executive meets the challenge.
Chicken nuggets. French fries. The pizza. Repeat.
The children’s menu item may seem familiar to many families, but the goal of a fast casual chain is to place more options in front of younger customers.
Starting this month, almost everything on the regular menu of Panera has a child size version. This part contracts, so does the price. “Kids can now choose 250 different combinations,” Panera chief executive Ron Shaich told NPR.
So, how to use green and quinoa’s Greek salad? Pumpkin soup or whole wheat bread with Turkey and cranberries? Maybe it will expand the children’s taste.
Shaich announced the changes in a video, and he challenged the CEO of fast-food chains to review their children’s food choices, which he said could be a “nutritional nightmare.” In many chains, he says, children’s meals are almost always served with French fries, promotional toys and sugary drinks.
Shaich, in the video said: “I to McDonald’s, burger king and Wendy’s chief executives challenge, let them from their children’s eating for a week on the menu, or review the service in the restaurant for their children.
Now, although Panera is ahead of the curve of good nutrition, not every Panera dish is a model of healthy eating. The Mac and cheese on Panera’s children’s menu are 470 calories, up to 1,230 milligrams of sodium and only 1 gram of fiber. The dish is more calorie-dense and more sodium than the four pieces of chicken provided by the competition.
Speaking of his challenge, Shaich said he had not received a reply from any of his rival’s CEO.
McDonald’s responded to our request and raised the challenge. “We are proud of how we can continue to improve the food we serve at McDonald’s,” a McDonald’s spokeswoman, Becca Hary, told us in an email.
Harry points out many changes in happy meals in recent years, including the reduction of French fries. In addition, the chain has made a menu for children with sugary drinks such as Coca-Cola. Instead, it promotes milk and juice. The most recent product is low-sugar organic juice.
Hary concluded: “we recently announced that it would” honest children juice drink, “added to our pleasure in food, and we have to make many other positive changes, remove artificial preservatives from malt sauce chicken, for example, this kind of preservatives and no artificial color or flavor.
Since 2012, she says, McDonald’s has served more than 2 billion servings of fruit and low-fat dairy products, such as go-gurt, which now automatically provides happy meals.
Other chains have also revamped their children’s menus. As early as 2014, the subway promised to stack vegetables and provide healthier options for young customers.
But overall, there is a mismatch between what many chains offer for their children and what we recommend.
The “dietary guidelines” suggest that we add half of the plate to fruits and vegetables and increase the consumption of whole grains that are rich in fiber. At the same time, we recommend reducing salt and refined carbohydrates.
Despite the recent changes in the children’s menu, they still largely reflect the dietary habits of many americans who consume too much sugar, salt and energy-dense foods.