Panera Founder Slams McDonald’s Happy Meals and Challenges Fast Food CEOs to Eat Off Their Own Kids’ Menus
“If they can't live off their kids' menu, then they should consider reevaluating what they are serving,” says Panera CEO Ron Shaich.
UPDATE: A representative for McDonald’s responded to Shaich’s claims against the fast food chain’s lack of healthy kid options by pointing out many of their recent improvements. “We’re proud of how we’re continuing to raise the bar on the food we serve at McDonald’s,” they said in a statement to PEOPLE. “Our recent announcement that we’re adding Honest Kids Juice Drink to our Happy Meals joins other positive changes we have made, such as removing artificial preservatives from Chicken McNuggets, which also don’t have artificial colors or flavors. Since 2012, McDonald’s has served more than 2 billion servings of fruit and low-fat dairy products like Go-Gurt and automatically offering apple slices in Happy Meals.” The representative didn’t address whether the McDonald’s executives would be taking on Shaich’s challenge.
On Wednesday, Shaich took a stance against his rivals and challenged all executives to exclusively eat off their own kids’ menus for a week straight—and that means breakfast, lunch and dinner.
“For too long, food chains in the United States have served our children poorly, offering menu items like pizza, nuggets, fries accompanied by cheap toys and sugar-laced drinks,” Shaich says in a promotional video shared on Panera Bread’s official Twitter page, clearly making a dig at McDonald’s signature Happy Meal.
Shaich has been vocal about the issue in the past. Last year, McDonald’s announced that it was removing artificial preservatives from their Chicken McNuggets, and the notion got him thinking.
“I thought, ‘You’ve got to be kidding.’ Sure you’ve got McNuggets that are preservative-free, but what are you dipping them in? Sauces that are filled with that stuff!” the CEO told Business Insider at the time.
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Now, coming from a chain that officially ditched all artificial preservatives, flavors, and sweeteners from their food early this year, Shaich’s statement challenges other fast-food leaders to recognize the lack of healthy items available for its kiddy customers and hopefully make a change.
“What we are trying to do is create a discussion. What is the right thing to be doing as leaders and parents?” he told TheStreet. “I can live perfectly well on three meals a day, seven days a week from the Panera menu. My challenge is to peers is whether they can say the same thing.”
“If they can’t live off their kids’ menu, then they should consider reevaluating what they are serving,” he added.