December 6th, 2011
Toying with the Happy Meal: Is McDonald's Evading the Law?
By Michele Simon
Food Safety News
While most media outlets dubbed it the “Happy Meal toy ban,” the ordinance passed in San Francisco last year didn’t ban anything. The law just placed a few reasonable nutrition guidelines (a maximum of 600 calories per meal and limits on fat and salt, for example) for restaurants using free toy incentives to lure kids into a lifetime of bad eating habits. In a rare victory for children’s health, the bill passed despite heavy lobbying by McDonald’s.
The law went into effect Dec. 1, but the fast food giant—who didn’t want to change the nutritional makeup of its Happy Meals—has devised a clever gimmick to maintain the status quo. Instead of giving the toys away for free, parents will now pay 10 cents for the latest plastic action figure. And for bonus PR, the dime will be donated to the city’s Ronald McDonald House.
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