Nutrition & Marketing Practices

As one of the most frequented restaurants in the world, we help feed millions of people every day, with a focus on offering families the choices they love.

A family sitting and enjoying McDonald's together

We are listening to our customers and evaluating our menu to identify ways to evolve our offerings while maintaining the great taste people know and love. We provide a variety of choices to customers and bring families together to share moments and create lasting memories.


Our Recent Progress

Across our 20 major markets since 2018, we:

  • Served more than 5.7 billion fruit, vegetable, low-fat dairy and water items in Happy Meals.

  • Removed 100% of artificial flavors, added colors from artificial sources and artificial preservatives, where feasible,1 from Happy Meal Offerings.

  • Reduced calories by 6%, sodium by 9%, saturated fat by 15% and added sugar by 26% in our Happy Meal Bundle Offerings through reformulation, introduction or elimination of menu items.

    • Additionally, over half (56%) of our Happy Meal Bundle Offerings, on average, met our Global Happy Meal Nutrition Criteria as of the end of 2022, up from 36% in 2018.

  • Introduced 70 new Happy Meal Offerings containing a recommended food group globally.

  • Made Happy Meal nutrition information accessible on 100% of participating markets’ websites and mobile ordering apps.

  • Featured water, milk or juice as the Happy Meal beverage, and fruit, vegetable or dairy items as the Happy Meal side in 100% of ads shown to children.

Read the final report on progress against our Global Happy Meal Goals produced by Keybridge (PDF – 1.8 MB), the independent third party supporting our measurement and reporting, and our 2022–2023 Purpose & Impact Report (PDF – 7 MB) for a summary of our progress.

Our Strategy

Our nutrition strategy is integrated into Sustainability & Social Impact team responsibilities to provide leadership, coordination and support for McDonald’s global nutrition goals and reporting.

  • Our strategy has been grounded in goals related to our Happy Meal, as we heard from parents and stakeholders that focusing on kids and families is where we can have the biggest impact.

  • Parents are looking for menu choices they can feel good about when it comes to feeding their kids. That’s why we’ve been making balanced meals more accessible to families across the world and offering options that contribute to recommended food groups, such as fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy, in accordance with our values.

  • As we look to the future, we will share learnings across markets and assess new opportunities to build on the progress we have made so far.

Read more about our nutrition and marketing strategy in our 2022–2023 Purpose & Impact Report (PDF – 7 MB).

Global Governance

Our Chief Sustainability & Social Impact Officer, Vice President of Global Menu Strategy and Vice President of Global Brand oversee nutrition and marketing practices strategies, including progress against our Global Happy Meal Goals. This work sits within the Food Quality & Sourcing area of our Impact strategy. Together, these leaders provide updates as needed to a cross-functional leadership team of senior executives from across the Company who are accountable for leading McDonald’s Impact Strategy and report to the Chief Executive Officer.

We are continually strengthening our internal network. Colleagues from across the business – such as nutrition, menu, marketing, sustainability and supply chain teams – collaborate and share best practices on nutrition as well as learnings and insights across our global markets. We also partner externally with industry experts to help inform our strategy. For example, we have been working with the nonprofit Alliance for a Healthier Generation since 2013 on our nutrition efforts. This includes engaging them as a third-party advisor on the development and measurement of our Happy Meal Goals.


Marketing Responsibly to Children

We’re proud of our long history as an industry leader in responsible marketing to children. To address this topic at both a Company and an industry level, we participate in various local and regional pledges such as the EU Pledge and the U.S. Children’s Food & Beverage Advertising Initiative.

McDonald’s Global Marketing to Children Guidelines, which apply to all our markets, incorporate many of our commitments related to responsibly marketing to children. In each market, family marketing employees are required to take an e-learning course on these guidelines. We recognize the role we have to play as the leading global foodservice retailer and are actively involved in self-regulation focused on this important issue.

Encouraging Informed Decisions

Clear nutrition information is key to helping consumers make informed choices. From printed brochures and nutrition labeling on select food packaging to innovative use of our mobile apps, kiosks and online nutrition calculators, as well as displaying calories on menu boards, many of our markets publish nutrition information in a variety of ways to our customers.

There are also opportunities to positively influence customers’ choices through how items are presented on our menus. In the U.K., we are leveraging technology to encourage customers to choose more balanced options. Showing lower-calorie soft drinks first on menu ordering screens has encouraged more customers to buy them – with over 1.9 million purchases switched from higher sugar variants to no-added-sugar options2  when this was first introduced in 2017.

McDonald’s Netherlands has, for several years, offered water as the default Happy Meal drink. In 2019, a further menu update was made so cheeseburgers are now available by request only. More recently, further updates – such as adding more fruit and vegetable options to the dessert menu – have resulted in McDonald’s Netherlands achieving 12 million pieces of fruit sold every year.

Evolving our Menu

As well as providing more transparent, easy-to-understand nutrition information, we aim to continually evolve our menus as consumers’ tastes and preferences evolve. For example, in the U.K., we have had a defined nutrition strategy in place for over 15 years. We have reformulated over 200 ingredients and invested heavily in broadening our menu of balanced options during this time.

We have introduced more salad options, as well as fruit and vegetable bags, orange juice, mineral water and organic semi-skimmed milk. Currently, over 90% of our core food and drink menu is under 500 calories. We review and update our Happy Meal menu regularly, with approximately 70% of Happy Meal menu items non-high in fat, salt and sugar (non-HFSS), according to the U.K. Government’s Nutrient Profiling Model.

We’re making changes beyond our Happy Meal, too. In the U.S., since 2018, 100% of beef served in Quarter Pounder®3 burgers has been sourced from North America,45 and cooked fresh in restaurants across the country.6 In 2018, we announced that the following contained no artificial preservatives, artificial flavors or added colors from artificial sources (except the pickle, which contains an artificial preservative):

  • Hamburger
  • Cheeseburger
  • Double Cheeseburger
  • McDouble® burger
  • Quarter Pounder with Cheese sandwich
  • Double Quarter Pounder® with Cheese sandwich
  • Big Mac® sandwich

We actively partner with the dairy industry and our supply chain to innovate our menu to deliver more balanced options for younger guests. For example, in early 2020, we introduced a new low-fat chocolate milk that contains 25% less sugar than leading quick service restaurants’ low-fat chocolate milk.7


1 McDonald’s top priority is to ensure all items meet their strict food safety and quality standards. “Where feasible” means that by removing an artificial preservative, there will not be a sacrifice in the food quality or safety standards, value, or taste. In certain cases, it was determined that an artificial preservative was necessary to ensure the safety, quality, taste, or value of the food.

2 Purchases of Coca-Cola Classic switched to Coke Zero or Diet Coke.

Weight before cooking: 4 oz.

4 Available at most restaurants in the contiguous U.S. Not available in Alaska, Hawaii and the U.S. territories.

5 National sandwiches only. Excludes local and limited time options.

6 Available at most restaurants in the contiguous U.S. Not available in Alaska, Hawaii and the U.S. territories.

14 g of sugar vs. average of 22 g at leading quick-service restaurants.

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