Taco Bell to drop children’s meals

by Monica Watrous
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IRVINE, CALIF. — In a fast-food industry first, Taco Bell is dumping its children’s meals and toys beginning this month.

“As we continue our journey of being a better, more relevant Taco Bell, kid’s meals and toys simply no longer make sense for us to put resources behind,” said Greg Creed, chief executive officer of the Mexican chain owned by Yum! Brands, Inc.

The children’s menu, which the company said has no significant impact on system sales, will be phased out by January. Individual items, including crunchy and soft tacos, bean burritos and cheese roll-ups, will remain on the restaurant’s regular menu.

“Pioneering this change on our menu is a bold move for our industry, and it makes sense for Taco Bell,” Mr. Creed said. “We’ll be able to better focus on creating new and inventive items that our customers love.”

Recently, Taco Bell has experimented with a high-protein menu and breakfast items, including a sausage-and-egg waffle taco, in several markets. The chain also has pledged to improve the nutritional profile of some of its items with a 2020 goal to have a fifth of its combo meals meet a third of the federal government’s dietary guidelines for daily intake values of fat, calories and sodium.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (C.S.P.I.), which recently found that most top chains fail to meet industry nutrition standards for children’s meals, praised Taco Bell in a statement on its web site.

“Taco Bell is taking a constructive step forward by no longer using toys to encourage kids to pester their parents to go to that restaurant,” C.S.P.I. said. “We urge McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s and others to follow Taco Bell’s lead and stop using toys or other premiums to lure kids to meals of poor nutritional quality. … And with over 90% of children’s meals at the top chains failing to meet the restaurant industry’s own nutrition standards for kids’ meals, all restaurants should do much more to improve their offerings.”
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