Burger King drops soft drinks from children's menu

Amid public pressure to offer healthier food options, Burger King has dropped soft drinks from its children’s menu boards.

Pressure for more nutritious options for kids means combos offer apple juice, milk or chocolate milk

Burger King has dropped soft drinks from its children's menu. (Nick Ut/ Associated Press)

Amid public pressure to offer healthier food options, Burger King has dropped soft drinks from its children’s menu boards.

Burger King’s kids meal combos also now include 100 per cent apple juice, fat-free milk or low-fat chocolate milk, rather than pop.

While soft drinks are still on the menu in its Canadian and U.S. restaurants, they would have to be ordered separately.

Burger King follows McDonald’s and Wendy’s, which made similar moves to drop soft drinks from their children’s menus in the last few months.

The restaurant chain made the change quietly late last month, saying it didn’t announce it publicly to allow its franchise members to adapt to the change.

In an email statement sent to CBC News, Burger King said it was adopting nutrition standards for kids from the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative, a voluntary industry standard for advertising and marketing to children.

“BKC reviews its menu and nutrition criteria on an ongoing basis to ensure it is consistent with established scientific and government standards,” the company said in its statement.

Pressure for healthier choices

The CFBAI updated its nutrition standards in October of last year. Participating companies commit to advertise only better-for-you products to children under 12.

Improving the nutrition of their offerings is beginning to look like good business sense for many fast-food companies.

Sylvain Charlesbois, professor of food distribution and policy at the University of Guelph, said both Burger King and McDonald's are making significant moves in an attempt to capture the business of health-conscious millennials and baby-boomers.

"There is a big shift going on now with McDonald’s and Burger King and all the other fast-food chains, [in] how they design the menu and how they deliver their products to consumers," he told CBC News. 

"They make these decisions based on what they think society expects," he added.

The financial impact won't likely be known until the summer, when business tends to pick up at fast-food outlets, he said.

But it will reverberate throughout supply chains, with makers of soft drinks like Coke and Pepsi already feeling the impact of changing consumer tastes.

Soft drinks and obesity

Sugary soft drinks are a top source of calories in children's diets and can contribute to obesity, nutritionists say.

McDonald’s sales have been stalled or falling in North America as consumers demand more nutritious food when they eat out.

Last week, McDonald’s committed to selecting chicken that is free of antibiotics for its chicken nuggets.

Burger King sales continue to improve, growing by growing by 3.6 per cent in the U.S. and Canada in the third quarter of 2014.

But it is aware of the changing consumer tastes in favour of fresher food, more personal choice and better nutrition.

It is also under pressure from activists who link fast food diets to rising levels of obesity.

Burger King is now part of the same company as Tim Hortons, Restaurants Brands International.   


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