McDonald's to axe chocolate milk, cheeseburgers off its Happy Meal to cut down on kids eating rubbish

McDonald's is taking cheeseburgers and chocolate milk off its Happy Meal menu in an effort to cut down on the calories, sodium, saturated fat and sugar that kids consume at its restaurants.

Diners can still ask specifically for cheeseburgers or chocolate milk with the kid's meal, but the fast-food company said that not listing them will reduce how often they're ordered.

Since it removed soda from the Happy Meal menu four years ago, orders for it with Happy Meals have fallen 14 percent, the company said.

Hamburgers and Chicken McNuggets will remain the main entrees on the Happy Meal menu.The Happy Meal, launched nearly 40 years ago, has long been a target of health advocates and parents who link it to childhood obesity.

McDonald's has made many tweaks over the years, including cutting the size of its fries and adding fruit. Most recently, it swapped out its apple juice for one that has less sugar.

It's been especially important as the company tries to shake its junk-food image, since McDonald's is known for getting more business from families with children relative to its traditional rivals, such as Burger King and Wendy's.

McDonald's doesn't say how much revenue it makes from the $3 Happy Meal, but the company said 30 percent of all visits come from families.The latest Happy Meal changes, including new nutritional standards, will occur in the United States by June."

It's a good step in the right direction," said Margo Wootan, the vice president for nutrition at the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

"We would love to see many more restaurants do the same."McDonald's said Thursday that it wants all its Happy Meal options to have 600 calories or fewer and have less than 650 milligrams of sodium.

It also wants less than 10 percent of the meal's calories to come from saturated fat and the same percentage to come from added sugar.

The cheeseburger and chocolate milk didn't meet those new standards, the Oak Brook, Illinois-based company said. It is, however, working to cut sugar from the chocolate milk and believes it'll be back on the Happy Meal menu eventually - but doesn't know when that will happen.

There will be other tweaks: The six-piece chicken nugget Happy Meal will now come with a kids-sized fries instead of a small, lowering calories and sodium from the fries by half.

And bottled water will be added as an option to the Happy Meal menu, but will cost extra.

Currently, the Happy Meal menu lists milk, chocolate milk and apple juice. Soda does not cost extra.

For international restaurants, McDonald's Corp. said that at least half of the Happy Meal options available must meet its new nutritional guidelines.

The company said some are adding new menu items to comply, like in Italy, where a grilled chicken sandwich was added to the Happy Meal menu.

McDonald's Source: Associated Press

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Gay students, teachers could be banned by Australian religious schools

Gay students and teachers could be banned by religious schools in Australia.

Under proposed changes to discrimination laws religious schools would have the right to turn away gay students and teachers so they can "cultivate an environment which conforms to their beliefs".

It's the controversial recommendation of a leaked review into religious freedom which was carried out after last year's same-sex marriage vote.

Some states - but not all - already allow schools to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or relationship status.

Commonwealth laws also contain some provisions to permit faith-based schools to exercise this discretion.

A Fairfax Media report suggested the review recommended the right be enshrined in the federal Sex Discrimination Act to ensure a consistent national approach.

The review's panel, chaired by former Liberal minister Phillip Ruddock, said it accepted the right of schools to select or preference students who uphold their religious convictions.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison played down the proposal, saying such exemptions to anti-discrimination laws already exist.

"We're not proposing to change that law to take away that existing arrangement," he told reporters.

Attorney-General Christian Porter later clarified that no changes to the current arrangement, created by Labor in 2013, are proposed in the report.

"The Ruddock report does not recommend any changes to this regime," Mr Porter said.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said he can't believe the prime minister hasn't ruled out the "silly" idea completely.

"The fact is every child is entitled to human dignity. We shouldn't even be having this debate," Mr Shorten told reporters, demanding the Government release the report.

Gay rights activists slammed the proposal as a shameful assault on equality.

Alex Greenwich, who co-chaired the national campaign in support of same-sex marriage, is demanding the Federal Government rule it out.

The panel reportedly did not accept that businesses should be allowed to refuse services on religious grounds, such as denying a gay couple a wedding cake.

Under proposed changes to discrimination laws, religious schools could be offered new rights. Source: 1 NEWS

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Singapore Airlines to premiere non-stop 16,700km flight from Singapore to New York

Singapore Airlines is scheduled to premiere a non-stop flight from Singapore to New York that will cover 16,700km and last a whopping 18 hours and 45 minutes.

The record-breaking flight, which departs at 23.35pm local time on an Airbus A350-900ULR, will unseat Qatar Airways from the current record for the world's longest flight - a 17-hour 40-minute marathon journey from Doha to Auckland.

But passengers on the Singapore Airlines flight need not fret over cramped economy seats during the ultra-long-haul flight. The plane has been configured in a two-class layout that features only 67 business class and 94 premium economy class seats.

Prices from NZ to Singapore and then on to Newark on the long flight start from NZ$6,685 in premium economy and $17,285 in business class for return flights.

Newark Liberty International Airport is in New Jersey but it is just 19km outside New York City and is one of three major airports serving the New York metropolitan area.

The route will initially be served three times a week, with daily operations expected to commence from October 18 onwards.

This is not the first time the airline has flown from Changi Airport to New York.

The relaunch comes after Singapore Airlines suspended services on the route in 2013 after climbing fuel prices made the use of four-engine Airbus A340-500 jets an economic liability.

However, the flight may not hold the mantle of world's longest for long. Qantas chief Alan Joyce announced plans in August to introduce a direct flight between Sydney and London within the next four years that would take a total of 20 hours.

Source: 1 NEWS


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Pregnancy warning labels on alcohol to be mandatory in New Zealand

Pregnancy warning labels on alcohol will become mandatory in New Zealand under a decision made at the Australia New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation in Adelaide.

Minister for Food Safety Damien O’Connor says mandatory labelling will strengthen the Government’s work to change drinking behaviour among pregnant women.

“Hundreds of babies a year are born with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder because of exposure to alcohol in the womb. We need to take every action to reduce this harm,” Mr O’Connor said.

While the alcohol industry has been voluntarily including warnings on some products for the past six years there is no consistency in the type, colour, size and design, reducing the effectiveness of the message, he said.

There has been strong and sound support from a range of groups calling for mandatory labelling, the Minister said.

The move brings New Zealand in line with other countries that legally require pregnancy warning labels on alcohol such as the US and France.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand, the bi-national food standards setting agency, will now develop an appropriate standard to bring back to the ministerial forum for approval.

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Hawke's Bay growing giant emphasising flexible schedules to increase Kiwi staff numbers

The Government is urging growers to look for labour in their own backyards and one growing giant in Hawke's Bay believes with the right approach, it's easily done.

Solo mother of three Dani Gibson was on the benefit for six years before she found a job that suited her.

She told 1 NEWS it was impossible to find work which fit in with her kids' lives before working at growing giant Turners and Growers.

Ms Gibson is one of 204 workers that have been working at Turners and Growers in the last year after coming from the Ministry of Social Development.

It comes as part of a Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme - a policy allowing horticulture and viticulture industries to recruit workers from overseas for seasonal work when there aren't enough local workers.

Turners and Growers labour market manager Maurice Wilson told 1 NEWS, "In the past, we wouldn't have, but now we really cater to the needs of the individuals because we realise without people, we can't grow our business."

The company now emphasises flexible work hours and employee benefits like healthcare, which Ms Gibson says provides much-needed reassurance for her and her family.

"It feels good knowing that your kids are fine and that you've got a good job behind you as well that understand that," she said.

At peak season, 70 per cent of Turners and Growers' seasonal workforce is from MSD and locals - an example that the Minister of Social Development Carmel Sepuloni wants others to set as well.

Ms Sepuloni told 1 NEWS during her visit to Hawke's Bay that the programme was about "making sure we are looking at our domestic labour market first and how we can ensure that we are giving New Zealanders jobs and that those jobs work for them in terms of the terms and conditions".

However, there are concerns that there will still be a working shortfall even with more locals added to the workforce.

Around 11,000 seasonal workers are brought into New Zealand through the RSE scheme annually, but the industry says with dropping unemployment and one million apple trees being planted every year, that number will have to increase to keep up.

Apples and Pears NZ's Alan Pollard believes the increase is inevitable.

"We only have a defined harvest window so the fruit has to come off at that time so more fruit means more people needed to pick the fruit," Mr Pollard said.

The sector is aiming to be worth $10 billion by 2020, but Ms Sepuloni hopes the growth can benefit unemployed New Zealanders.

"There are still people that are seeking work and we need to work with them to make sure they are able to take up these jobs," Ms Sepuloni said.

In the last year, Turners and Growers in Hawke’s Bay have employed 204 workers from the Ministry of Social Development’s books. Source: 1 NEWS