BURBANK, CA: When Walt Disney Parks and Resorts this week announced that well-balanced meals would become the standard at Disney-operated restaurants, it was the company's latest move to promote healthier kids' diets - and reinforce its family-friendliest place on Earth message.Already in effect at US parks, the new menu offerings follow a food-industry trend toward more nutritious eating options for youngsters. But this is just one aspect of Disney's larger, "long-term commitment to the health of kids," said Zenia Mucha, Disney's Burbank, CA-based EVP of corporate communications.
Though Disney declined to discuss its PR strategy, the new guidelines have been well received by health-advocacy groups including Washington-based Center for Science in the Public Interest.
"Disney's new practices put it in a much more family-friendly position than its competitors," said CSPI nutrition policy director Margo Wootan, in a statement.
In July, Disney unveiled a set of guidelines applicable to all its consumer products' licensees, Mucha said. Those have already gone into effect in the Kroger Co.'s line of Disney-branded items, which feature updated nutritional formulations and packaging with a Mickey Mouse "thumbs up" logo, directing kids to a Disney Web site filled with "healthy lifestyles" messages.
Earlier this year, the Walt Disney Co. and McDonald's ended their decade-long exclusive cross-promotional agreement, though the companies still partner for promotions on a case-by-case basis.