Happy Meals: Does McDonald's lure kids unfairly?
Happy Meals have been a part of McDonald's menu for three decades. Now, San Francisco is considering a ban on the toys in Happy Meals.
By Laurent Belsie / August 13, 2010
A bottled water ban? OK. No more regular Coke and Pepsi in government vending machines? All right, if we have to. But no more Happy Meals?
.That's the ban that San Francisco is mulling over. Some city supervisors say the toys in McDonald's Happy Meals unfairly lure children to eat unhealthy food.
McDonald's has launched a spirited defense of the iconic meals, which have been part of the chain's menu since 1979, more than 30 years. The meals are a way to draw families to its restaurants, a key demographic for a global chain hungry for customers.
Now, San Francisco's suggested ban is getting attention – and stirring a backlash from critics, who call it unwanted interference by a nanny government. Parents should make meal decisions for their children, not government, they say.
McDonald's CEO, Jim Skinner, argued along the same lines in his written response to CSPI: "Our customer websites and phone lines at McDonald's are also busy, with more than nine out of ten customers disagreeing with your agenda. Parents, in particular, strongly believe they have the right and responsibility to decide what's best for their children, not CSPI," he wrote.
"It seems that you purposefully skewed your evaluation of our Happy Meals by putting them in the context of a highly conservative 1,300 calorie per day requirement," he added. "I'm sure you know this category generally applies to the youngest and most sedentary children."