McDonald’s Accused of ‘Creepy and Predatory Practices’

Ronald McDonald is in trouble again.

The nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) served McDonald’s with notice of its intent to sue over “unfair and deceptive marketing” by using toys to “lure small children into McDonald’s.”

CSPI litigation director Stephen Gardner said, “McDonald’s is the stranger in the playground handing out candy to children. McDonald’s use of toys undercuts parental authority and exploits young children’s developmental immaturity—all this to induce children to prefer foods that may harm their health. It’s a creepy and predatory practice that warrants an injunction.”

McDonald’s is currently promoting toys from the current Shrek movie. This suit is unrelated to the recent recall of Shrek drinking glasses.

The June 22 letter to McDonald’s also states, “McDonald’s duplicitous approach to marketing directed to children can be seen in a recent press release that boasts that the company’s Shrek-based promotion will ‘encourage kids to ‘Shrek Out’ their Happy Meals around the world with menu options like fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy and fruit juices.’ In reality, though, the whole point of the Shrek promotion is to get kids into McDonald’s where they most likely will end up being served unhealthy default options and eating unhealthy meals.”

According to CSPI, The Federal Trade Commission will be releasing a set of voluntary standards for food marketers later this year. A 2008 FTC report says that food companies spend more than $350 million on toy giveaways each year.

Reuters quotes McDonald’s spokesman William Whitman as calling the charges a “misrepresentation” of its effort to sell healthier food and safe toys. “Getting a toy is just one part of a fun, family experience at McDonald’s.”

I’m not a fan of fast food. I’m definitely against a steady diet of fast food for children. Food is fuel for the body and we should respect our bodies enough to fuel them properly. After all, we’ve got to live in them.

As naive as it sounds, I wish that corporations would take it upon themselves to act responsibly in the interest of public health, especially where children are concerned. The realist in me knows better.

Whatever the outcome of any legal battle over McDonald’s practices, we adults must take to the battlefield. Not the battlefield of the courtroom, but the battlefield personal responsibility.

While fast food may be marketed toward children, adults are the prime example and authority in children’s lives.

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Image used under Creative Commons License with thanks to Adam NFK Smith


177 comments

Carole R.
Carole F.4 years ago

Some people are a little wacky and have too much time on their hands. Suing? Really? Relax, With all that is going on in the world you're going after a toy?

Agnes O.
Agnes O.5 years ago

This whole lawsuit is the epitome of stupid.

Tammy Davis
Tammy Davis5 years ago

Over toys- really? Come on America, there are more important things to put your time into it

David Jekot
David J.5 years ago

Hey, we're talking about a piece of crap toy. Like others have said kids can't get to McDonald's unless their parents take them there. I would love to eat healthy all the time but once in a while I enjoy a greasy $1 hamburger from McDonald's. If you don't want your kids to have the toy tell the person at McDonald's the they should leave the toy out or just don't take your kid to McDonald's. People grow up and quit suing for stupid sh*t. I have a lot of patience but do not deal well with STUPID and this whole thing just seems real stupid. The cheap skates should just take their kids to McDonald's once in a while and let the poor kid get a Happy Meal with the crappy toy. "Big Deal" One not so healthy meal once in a while won't mark the kid for life and you can get fruit instead of fries and fruit drink or water instead of a coke. So it won't be 100% unhealthy.

Claire Bhugowandeen
Claire D.5 years ago

Why are all the latest toys like shrek and toy story used by all the unhealthy corporations? Parents are already struggling to ensure their kids eat healthily and this propaganda just makes things difficult

Collette Gravelyn
Collette G.5 years ago

Creepy just seems like the wrong word to use. Mcdonalds simply knows what a child wants...which is a toy, of course. People who think that by sueing Mcdonalds there going to change things are so wrong. Mcdonalds is simply providing goods that parents have the choice of buying or not.

Charles W.
Charles Webb5 years ago

Preditory? That would mean they are abducting little kids off the streets or out of their homes and forcing happy meals on them. Give me a break!

April Thompson
April Thompson5 years ago

Stop blaming McDonald's and putting the blame where it belongs- on the parents!

kathy k.
kathy k.5 years ago

What's next? Removing cotton candy from carnivals?
I'm all for healthy food choices, but, c'mon...
we're talking fast food here ~
Kids that want happy meal toys aren't being lured;
...an adult is taking them there. duh.

kathy k.
kathy k.5 years ago

What's next? Removing cotton candy from carnivals?
I'm all for healthy food choices, but, c'mon...
we're talking fast food here ~
Kids that want happy meal toys aren't being lured;
...an adult is taking them there. duh.