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San Francisco’s Happy Meal Law: No More Toys with Unhealthy Children’s Meals

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Happy Meal Play Set by Stéfan on Flickr

Photo by Stéfan on Flickr

The city of San Francisco has passed a law that prohibits restaurants from giving away toys with children’s meals that don’t meet certain nutritional standards.

Yes, Virginia, that likely means McDonald’s Happy Meal toys will be difficult to find in San Francisco as of December 1.

The city’s Board of Supervisors passed the law 8-3, which means it can’t be vetoed by the mayor, Gavin Newsom, who had promised to do so. Nearby Santa Clara County also has a similar ordinance.

Now in San Francisco, if a restaurant wants to give away a free toy with a children’s meal, that meal must be “less than 600 calories, contain fruits and vegetables, and include beverages without excessive fat or sugar.”

McDonald’s Corp, needless to say, is not happy with the law.

“We are extremely disappointed with today’s decision. It’s not what our customers want, nor is it something they asked for,” said McDonald’s spokeswoman Danya Proud.

On the other side are the law’s supporters, who cite high obesity rates of children (particularly children of color) in San Francisco as the impetus behind the provision.

“This is a challenge to the restaurant industry to think about children’s health first and join the wide range of local restaurants that have already made this commitment,” said San Francisco Supervisor Eric Mar, who backed the law.

You may remember that earlier this year we talked about the threat of a lawsuit against McDonald’s by the Center for Science in the Public Interest if the restaurant did not stop issuing toys with its Happy Meals. Apparently the suit is still being planned and could be filed within the next several weeks.

What do you think of this law and/or potential lawsuit? Do you think restaurants should be allowed to give out toys with meals no matter the nutritional content?

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November 4th, 2010 at 12:52 pm