McDonald's latest attempt to promote exercise with Happy Meal toys has apparently irritated some people. Literally.
The Golden Arches, long criticized for marketing what some say is unhealthy food, has been giving out activity trackers in Happy Meals in the United States and Canada in recent days.
The item is a brightly colored wristband worn like a watch that keeps track of movement instead of time. The square shape of the face, to some, resembled the shape of an Apple watch. In one version, a light blinks faster when the person wearing it moves around. Another appears to count steps and other movement on a small screen. The name "STEP-iT" appears on both versions.
"We are voluntarily removing the Step It! Activity Band Happy Meal toys in our restaurants in our United States and Canadian markets. It will no longer be offered as part of our Happy Meals. We have taken this swift and voluntary step after receiving limited reports of potential skin irritations that may be associated from wearing the band," McDonald's said in a statement Wednesday. "Nothing is more important to us than the safety of our customers and we are fully investigating this issue. Our restaurants are now offering our youngest guests an alternative Happy Meal toy."
It was not immediately clear what company manufactured the toy or how serious the skin irritation reports were.
Pulling the item comes days after it began gaining attention, both positive and negative. While some people praised McDonald's for promoting a way to encourage children to be more active, others said the chain would be better off serving more nutritious meals.
On its Happy Meal website, McDonald's had been showing product explanation videos such as the one below.