Shortly after McDonald’s began giving out fitness-tracking arm bands in their Happy Meals, the fast food company had to recall millions of the devices. Complaints started pouring in claiming that the Step-It devices were causing skin irritation on the arms of the children.
According to Gizmodo, the McDonald’s Step-It bands were wristband pedometers designed to count steps and encourage children to stay active.
Step-It bands are now in Happy Meals! Have a healthy lunch then see how many steps the kids get in! pic.twitter.com/dkILYpYbn3
— McDonald’s MS Delta (@McDMSDelta) August 11, 2016
Not only were the devices cheaply made, but it seems the material McDonald’s used for the bands were also not ideal for contact with human skin. Parents reported everything from mild irritation to full-on rashes and burns on the wrists of their kids. McDonald’s made no effort to salvage the Step-It toy and opted to voluntarily recall the device.
McDonald’s issued a statement this week apologizing for the mistake. Though it isn’t clear what caused the skin reactions, McDonald’s claims to be looking into the problem to prevent similar issues in the future.
“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. Nothing is more important to [McDonald’s] than the safety of our customers and we are fully investigating this issue.”
A post from a woman named Casey Collyar on Facebook shows the burn mark made by the Step-It band on her son’s arm after purchasing a McDonald’s Happy Meal.
McDonald’s also advised anyone who received a Step-It toy to stop wearing it immediately and promised to provide a free McDonald’s Happy Meal toy in place of the fitness trackers.
“We are now asking customers who have the activity bands to stop wearing them and return to any McDonald’s for a free replacement toy and a choice of a yogurt or apple slices,” said McDonald’s. “We apologize to our customers who were impacted and for the inconvenience this recall has caused.”
A local news site from Nashville, TN, even claimed that the McDonald’s Step-It bands were causing blisters on some children. Though it appears to be the plastic strap that caused the skin reaction, the light-up “Activity Counter” will not be redistributed by McDonald’s as a stand-alone pedometer or fitness tracker. However, a McDonald’s Adult Happy Meal was announced earlier this year with a strapless Step-It step counter that came along with a salad.
According to the McDonald’s website, the company manufactured a staggering 33 million of the Step-It wristbands and distributed them across the United States and Canada. However, the breakouts of rashes and burns began happening before McDonald’s sent out a large portion of the fitness trackers, so the skin reactions didn’t affect nearly as many children as they could have. Customers who may be concerned about the rashes are encouraged by McDonald’s to call the company’s toll-free number at 1-800-244-6227.
— Faiza (@CityFaizaAmin) August 16, 2016
The Step-It bands were announced alongside the 2016 Olympic games in Rio as part of McDonald’s sponsorship with the Olympics. If you watched any of the Olympic events, you probably saw that the daily medal count was always “brought to you by McDonald’s.” According to News Week, this sponsorship seemed wrong to many public health officials, who criticized McDonald’s for contributing to obesity and poor health while sponsoring a global athletic event.
“Our own and our government’s efforts to continue to get important health messages across are threatened by the millions of dollars spent on marketing campaigns for junk food and sugary drinks,” said Tilakavati Karupaiah from the Faculty of Health Sciences at the National University of Malaysia.
Gizmodo noted that even without the rashes, receiving fitness tracker with a McDonald’s Happy Meal is slightly ironic because it would take 24,000 steps just to work off the calories of the fast food.
What do you think of McDonald’s Step-It mistake? Do you know someone who had a bad skin reaction to the McDonald’s toy?
[Images via Facebook]