Panera's CEO slams McDonald's: 'Would you really eat your own kids' meals?'

Panera's kids' menu now simply contains smaller versions of "adult" menu entrees.

Shaich challenged CEOs at McDonald's, Burger King and Wendy's to "personally eat exclusively from their restaurants' kids meals for an entire week - and if not, to take a thoughtful look at what they are offering our smallest guests", according to a statement from Sunset Hills-based Panera, which operates locally as St. Louis Bread Co. Aside from last year's announcement about the removal of artificial ingredients, parents can now order half-sized portions of nearly all of the items on Panera's regular menu, which results in more than 250 healthy combinations for kids to eat.

Panera's CEO has a challenge for fast-food executives: Eat the meals their chains are serving children.

While the video and campaign are created to highlight the benefits of eating at Panera, we're certainly curious to see if McDonald's, Wendy's and Burger King's CEOs really will decide to partake in the #KidsMenuChallenge.

Shaich posed the challenge to Business Insider thusly: "Would you really order it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, three meals a day for seven days?"

In an email to the Post-Dispatch, McDonald's spokeswoman Andrea Abate said the chain is proud of how it's "continuing to raise the bar on the food we serve at McDonald's".

"Kids' menus in America haven't really changed much and we hope this spurs the conversation and leads to changes in how we serve children", Burnett said of Shaich's challenge to CEOs.

The challenge accompanies the launch of Panera's revamped kids' menu. The menu features almost 250 "clean combinations" without artificial ingredients, consisting of smaller-sized entrees, priced from $4.59 to $7.89. He then cites popular kids' menu items, like chicken nuggets and french fries, while also making mention of the fact that McDonald's uses toys to market Happy Meals to children, a gimmick he's commented on in the past. The company also said it is committed to not marketing to children and provide real options for kids to choose from.

The inclusion of toys in McDonald's Happy Meals and kids' meals at other chains are created to convince children to ask their parents to visit a certain fast-food chain. For example, last week McDonald's announced it was replacing its 100% juice with a less sugary, organic apple juice in Happy Meals. Shaich took a dig at McDonald's a year ago and claimed that the brand hadn't done enough to switch to healthier ingredients, even after the brand boasted about removing preservatives from its Chicken McNuggets.

"What we're trying to do is, in the middle of the night, trying to get these people to think to themselves - is what we're doing really for the good of the kids?"

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