It happened in San Francisco and now it could happen in New York:
No more Happy Meals.
Yes, just as San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors voted to ban most of McDonald’s Happy Meals last year, a New York city councilman, Leroy G. Comrie, Jr., has introduced a bill for toys to be banned from fast food meals unless their fat, salt and sugar content is reduced. From the New York Times City Room blog:
Mr. Comrie’s bill, which he is to introduce in the City Council on Wednesday, would restrict toys to meals that contain fewer than 500 calories and 600 milligrams of sodium, and in which less than 35 percent of the calories come from fat (making exceptions for nuts, seeds, peanut butter or other nut-based butters). In addition, the meal would have to contain a half a cup of fruit or vegetables or one serving of whole-grain products.
So you know: A meal with a cheeseburger, French fries and low-fat chocolate milk has 700 calories and 1,060 milligrams of sodium, while one with Chicken McNuggets and apple slices, low-fat caramel dipping sauce and apple juice has 380 calories and 460 milligrams of sodium.
Corrie’s proposal is actually more stringent than the San Francisco one, which called for fewer than 600 calories and 640 milligrams of sodium in those meals that come in brightly decorated paper boxes with little plastic figurines of characters from whatever is the latest movie or toy trend.
Corrie cites his personal experience of raising his two sons, now 17 and 13, as motivation for his proposal:
“Both are fast-food aficionados, and it’s my fault…I’m not healthy. I’m the typical parent with no time and limited options, so you’re grabbing whatever is going to make your child happy. My wife has yelled at me repeatedly for grabbing Happy Meals.”
Corrie notes that he himself is “seriously overweight.”
McDonald’s is, surprise surprise, not pleased about the proposal. Says one McDonald’s executive for the New York region:
“Taking away toys from kids’ meals won’t solve childhood obesity.”
“Our Happy Meals make it easier for families to choose the right foods in portions just for kids…We provide options for our customers and trust them to make the decisions that are right for their families. Politicians should, too.”
Well, sure, one does always have the option of not buying fast food for one’s child.
It could be argued that Happy Meals actually make it harder for families to “choose the right foods in portions just for kids.” Amid all the colorful packaging and the plastic gizmos that kids clamor for over a rather dry hamburger patty and spongy-crisp fries, do you ever just want to ask, where’s the beef?
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Photo by franzconde.