McDonald’s ‘Upcharges’for Healthy Drinks, Suit Says

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By Julie A. Steinberg

Sept. 30 — McDonald’s deceptively “upcharges” consumers for healthy beverages ordered with Happy Meals, according to a proposed class suit ( Knowles v. McDonald’s USA LLC , S.D. Fla., No. 16-81657, complaint filed 9/29/16 ).Happy Meal buyers are led to believe the menu board price will get them a Happy Meal with a healthy drink for no extra charge, the Sept. 29 complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida says.

McDonald’s wasn’t immediately available for comment.

The menu board displays prices for hamburger, cheeseburger and Chicken McNuggets meals. It directs Happy Meal customers to choose a meat, a side and one of three “healthy” drinks—1 percent milk, fat-free chocolate milk or apple juice—according to the complaint.

But the fast food giant adds a “Drink Upcharge” fee when customers order any of the options advertised as being part of the meal, the complaint says.

McDonald’s agreed in 2013 to remove soda from the Happy Meal section of its menu boards as part of a partnership with with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, according to the suit.

With soda off the table, McDonald’s began advertising that “healthy” drinks were menu options automatically included with a Happy Meal, Florida resident Emily Knowles alleges.

But Knowles was charged an additional 30 cents for a milk when buying a Happy Meal at a Delray Beach, Fla., location, and was told by a restaurant employee that “milk is always more expensive,” she says.

This practice is nationwide, Knowles alleges. She seeks to represent a national class.

The Law Offices of Robert L. Parks and Wasch Raines LLP represent Knowles.

To contact the reporter on this story: Julie A. Steinberg in Washington at jsteinberg@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steven Patrick at spatrick@bna.com

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