McDonald's plan to pull cheeseburgers off Happy Meal menu

Fast food giant McDonald's has pledged to make its Happy Meals more nutritious by introducing a number of healthy changes.

The company announced on Friday that by 2022 at least 50 percent of Happy Meals listed on menus worldwide will have caps of 600 calories. 

Changes will include making cheeseburgers available in Happy Meals only by customer request, reducing the size of the fries in a six-piece Chicken McNuggets order and cutting back the amount of added sugar in chocolate milk and adding bottled water as a featured drink choice. 

A McDonald's New Zealand spokesperson said "In New Zealand McDonald's has been on a journey to improve the menu for over 15 years and is well progressed on the global commitments".

"We were one of the first companies to sign the Ministry of Health's Healthy Kids Pledge and have been working proactively to provide Kiwi families with more choices, in particular with Happy Meals. 

We have also worked to go above and beyond the Advertising Standards Authority's code for advertising to children, as part of our responsible marketing policy."

A number of alternatives have already been introduced to the New Zealand Happy Meal menu.

In 2003, milk, juice and water was added, apple slices were added as a alternative to fries in 2004 and 2006 the company moved to using canola based cooking oil. 

By June, all Happy Meals in the US will hit the calorie, saturated fat and added sugar targets and 78 percent will meet the sodium criteria. 

The US company also said it will explore adding new foods in Happy Meals, like Junior Chicken - a grilled chicken sandwich McDonald's Italy introduced last month, while  McDonald's Australia is looking at a vegetable options. 

"It's a journey a delicate balance. Customers are looking for options today they can feel good about eating," The chain's head of global nutrition Julia Braun says. 

In 2014 the US removed removing fizzy drinks from the Happy Meal section opting for water, milk and juice.

Customers were also selecting fruit in their meal such as cherry tomatoes in the Netherlands, pineapple in Spain, carrots in Russia, side salad in Germany and corn cups in Taiwan, Ms Braun says.

Newshub.