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Happy Meals could get healthier under a proposed Maryland law

Screen Shot 2020-11-17 at 11.08.13 AM

Source: Gabriel Pietrorazio, Civil Eats, 16 November 2020, photo credit: McDonald’s

The McDonald’s restaurants dotting Maryland’s Prince George’s County are take-out and drive-thru only, just as they are around the country, as part of national efforts to slow the uncontrolled spread of the coronavirus. And although the Happy Meals are still flying out the doors, an effort underway by the county council could have nationwide implications for what gets included in those boxes.

Tomorrow, the council is holding a public hearing on County Bill 071, dubbed, “The Healthy Kids Meal Bill,” which would set a five-year plan in motion to overhaul the foods that restaurants can serve children in the county. Supporters say the bill, which is widely expected to pass with unanimous support from the 11-member council, will be the nation’s most comprehensive health nutritional children’s meal policy to date.

The bill will start by requiring, over the next two years, that all food retail businesses offer water, milk, or 100 percent juice to accompany every children’s meal as a default beverage option rather than soda, which can still be requested by parents or guardians. Over the next five years, the bill will add requirements for every restaurant to offer at least one healthy side dish and then one healthy main course.
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