While the rest of us were voting in the mid-terms on Tuesday, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors was voting to ban most of McDonald’s Happy Meals as they are now served in their restaurants. Specifically, the board voted to ban toy giveaways in meals that don’t meet nutritional guidelines or that don’t contain any fruits or vegetables.
That would be all Happy Meals as they are currently constituted.
An Agenda Of Food Justice
“We’re part of a movement that is moving forward an agenda of food justice,” said Supervisor Eric Mar, who sponsored the measure. “From San Francisco to New York City, the epidemic of childhood obesity in this country is making our kids sick, particularly kids from low income neighborhoods, at an alarming rate. It’s a survival issue and a day-to-day issue.”
The ban actually applies to all fast-food meals, but the biggest impact will be on McDonald’s, which is the largest user of toy giveaways with their meals. The ordinance is scheduled to take effect in December 2011. As Care2′s Heather Moore reported here, a similar ban has already been enacted by Santa Clara County, about 40 miles south of the city, but San Francisco is the first major metropolis to take this step.
Protecting Children? Or Government Intrusion?
Opinions online have been strong on both sides of this issue, with supporters arguing that it is important to protect children from obesity, and opponents seeing it as yet another example of parents being told what to do.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest has called Happy Meal toys a “predatory practice” that “undercuts parental authority and exploits young children’s developmental immaturity.” The center is preparing a lawsuit against McDonald’s for unfair and deceptive marketing.
On the other side, Daniel Conway, spokesman for the California Restaurant Association, unhappily compared his feelings with those of the day before, when the Giants won the world series.
“One day you’re world champions, and the next day, no toys for you,” quipped Conway.
Make Way For The McRib Sandwich?
Ironically, the vote was held the same day that McDonald’s reintroduced nationwide its McRib sandwich, a pressed pork patty that gets half its calories from fat and has a vast number of fans across the country.
Will that be the next one to go in San Francisco?
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