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Happy Meal change: Apple slices in every Happy Meal

Happy Meal change: McDonald's on Tuesday said that it would add apple slices and reduce the portion of French fries in its children's meal boxes this fall, effectively taking away consumers' current choice between either having apples with caramel dip or fries as a Happy Meal side.

A McDonald's Cheeseburger Happy Meal with the new apple slices option is shown on Tuesday, July 26, in Pittsburgh. McDonald's Corp. says it is adding apple slices to every Happy Meal, part of the chain's larger push to paint itself as a healthy place to eat.

Keith Srakocic/AP

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An apple a day may keep the doctor away. But when you put it in a Happy Meal, it might help keep regulators at bay too.

McDonald's on Tuesday said that it would add apple slices and reduce the portion of French fries in its children's meal boxes this fall, effectively taking away consumers' current choice between either having apples with caramel dip or fries as a Happy Meal side. McDonald's also said it is offering a new mobile app focused on the nutrition of its fare, and is reducing sugars, saturated fats and calories in its main menu items.

The moves by McDonald's Corp., which has become a leader among its peers in offering nutritious choices like oatmeal and salads, comes as fast food chains face intense scrutiny from health officials and others who blame the industry for childhood obesity and other health-related problems. Some municipalities, including San Francisco, have even banned fast food restaurants from selling kids' meals with toys.

Critics wasted no time complaining that the changes don't go far enough. Kelle Louaillier, executive director of a group called Corporate Accountability International, said McDonald's is just trying to get ahead of impending regulations that will restrict the marketing of junk food to children and require restaurants to post nutrition information on menus, among other changes.

"McDonald's is taking steps in the right direction, but we should be careful in heaping praise on corporations for simply reducing the scope of the problem they continue to create," said Kelle Louaillier, executive director of a group called Corporate Accountability International.

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