Health Law

Happy Meals Banned in San Francisco, Targeted in Upcoming Lawsuit

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Happy Meals are on the hot seat.

A new San Francisco law bans restaurants from giving away free toys with unhealthy restaurant meals for children—a law that takes aim at McDonald’s Happy Meals. It’s the first major U.S. city to crack down on the toys and the second California jurisdiction to do so, Reuters and the Los Angeles Times report. Santa Clara County passed a similar law earlier this year.

The San Francisco ordinance bans toys with kids’ meals unless they meet health guidelines. Meals with toys must have fewer than 600 calories, the fat content must be less than 35 percent of calories, and fruit and vegetables must be included. The measure takes effect on Dec. 1.

Meanwhile, the Center for Science in the Public Interest is readying a lawsuit targeting the restaurant’s “insidious use of toys to market its products to children,” according to a letter (PDF) sent to McDonald’s. The letter contends marketing to kids under age 8 is inherently deceptive.

According to Reuters, CSPI plans to file the suit in the next few weeks.

The Money & Company blog of the Los Angeles Times sees irony in the fact that the new ban was enacted at the same time McDonald’s customers are rejoicing that the 500-calorie McRib is back on the menu for a limited time. The blog is marking the occasion with a call for McRib haiku.

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