Disney’s muscle soon to be free of trans fats

I love this story. I love it so much, I may have actually squealed a little while I was reading it. If Walt Disney were alive today I would hunt him down and kiss him on the lips (and quite possibly slip him some tongue)*, that‘s how much I love this story.

I read it in The New York Times yesterday (registration required to view article) and in addition to cheering, I am also saying, “Finally!”

Buzz Lightyear and Lightning McQueen will not be endorsing junk food much longer.

Walt Disney, addressing the growing concerns of parents over child nutrition, said yesterday that it would curtail the use of its name and characters with food items that did not meet new nutritional standards. The new guidelines would limit how much sugar, calories and fat could be in snacks and foods marketed by companies that Disney has licensing relationships with.

Setting aside my incredulity at seeing a dangling preposition in the NYT, this was welcome news. As a mom, I have to say that I pretty much despise the concept of a meal that comes with a toy for about a billion reasons. But it does exactly what everyone involved hopes it will do—drive consumer dollars to an establishment because Junior wants the latest and greatest offered baubles (nevermind what the food is).

What a lovely change of pace to see a corporate giant using their muscle to encourage socially responsible change in other businesses. And the icing on the cake? No “do as I say but not as I do” for the brand, either:

In addition to the licensing restrictions, Disney said its own theme park restaurants would change the default options for side orders from French fries to a more healthy choice, like carrots or applesauce.

[...]

All trans fats are to be eliminated from food at restaurants located in Disneyââ¬â¢s theme parks by 2007 and from licensed food items by 2008.

The NYT article takes issue with the absence of plans to restrict advertising of unhealthy foods on Disney-owned television channels, but I find myself feeling uncharacteristically charitable on this oversight. The announced measures are a huge step in the right direction. I’m not saying I wouldn’t love to see them take it that extra mile, of course. Just that I’m willing to give credit where credit is due, and it’s due here. This is a brilliant move on Disney’s part. Bravo, Disney!

*Let’s pretend I didn’t say that, about kissing Walt. It feels a little sacrilegious, even compared to the relative evilness of Happy Meals.

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