MIAMI – Burger King pledged Wednesday to offer healthier fast-food items for children under 12, with plans to sell and market flame-broiled Chicken Tenders and apples cut to resemble thick-cut french fries.
The world's second largest hamburger chain said it has set nutritional guidelines to follow when targeting children under 12 in advertising, including limiting ads to Kids Meals that contain no more than 560 calories, less than 30 percent of calories from fat and no more than 10 percent of calories from added sugars.
In that vein, Burger King is building a Kids Meal that will contain the flame-broiled Tenders, organic unsweetened applesauce and low-fat milk, for a total of 305 calories and 8.5 grams of fat. It will be available in restaurants sometime in 2008, the company said.
The fast-food chain also is developing what it calls BK Fresh Apple Fries. The red apples are cut to resemble french fries and are served in the same containers as fries, but they are not fried and are served skinless and cold.
The 2.4-ounce serving of Apple Fries will have 35 calories, the company said. A small serving of Burger King french fries has 230 calories and 13 grams of fat, according to Burger King's Web site.
Burger King will use U.S. grown apples that are cut and packaged in a sterile environment and subjected to a pre-wash that contains lemon to keep them from turning brown, said Burger King spokesman Keva Silversmith.
The Miami-based company will continue to offer its fried Chicken Tenders on its menu. The flame-broiled Tenders have 145 calories and 6 grams of fat per four-piece children's serving. A four-piece serving of fried Tenders has 170 calories and 10 fat grams.
Miriam Pappo, a registered dietitian and nutritionist, said the move is part of a trend to offer healthier products at restaurants as people become more aware of nutrition and take interest in exactly what they are eating.
"It's a good trend. The actual ultimate solution is still to eat less fast food," said Pappo, clinical nutrition manager at Montesiore Medical Center in New York. "It will only be successful if it tastes good and it will only be successful if it fills the child up."
McDonald's offers apple slices with a low-fat caramel dip and low-fat milk in its Happy Meals, while offering salads and fruit parfaits on its regular menu. Wendy's offers salads, yogurt with granola and mandarin oranges.
Burger King also sells salads and has a veggie burger. It did not reveal a price for its new children's items because food and paper costs have not been set, Silversmith said.