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McDonald’s Happy Meal Ban Goes Through in San Francisco

Happy Meal littering the sidewalk

The San Francisco Happy Meal ban went through yesterday!

Proponents of the Happy Meal ban say that including a toy unfairly markets junk food to kids. In fact, the ban only applies to meals for kids, like the Happy Meal, that offer a toy as an incentive. If restaurants want to include a toy with their meals, they’d have to meet certain nutritional requirements. What are those requirements? According to the official summary:

To provide an incentive item, meals must contain fruits and vegetables, not exceed 600 calories or 200 calories for a single food item and must not have beverages that have excessive fat or sugar.

The Board of Supervisors passed the ordinance, but mayor Newsom has already said he plans to veto it. That means it will go back to the Board, where they’ll vote again to override the veto.

If you live in San Francisco and support the ban, you can find your district’s Supervisor on their website and contact them to let them know how you feel.

So, what about you guys? Do you think Happy Meals represent underhanded marketing practices or do you think the ban is too much?

VIA: EcoLocalizer.

Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by loop_oh

45 comments
  1. Nicole Weaver

    Wow they need to go to the elementary schools for a week or two and eat that food themselves then start on that level with changing whats in the food. Mc Donalds already offers free lowfat milk, apples and instead of Nuggets you can get a grilled chicken breast with the happy meal it is up to you what you’d like to feed your kid, for those kids eating out with friends if your raising them right it’s up to them to make good choices in the food they would like to eat. You have already taken out the play lands and turned them into video game areas due to contamination on the balls and equipment. For crying out loud Leave them alone… Mc Donalds is all about choices and I’m all about that.. Put back in the play lands and the kids will lose all the calories they eat…. My kids used to and they loved it, they were allowed a happy meal for an hour of play time, and yes I got in the play land with them and we had a blast…. The school food is crappy I wouldn’t feed it to my dog and the lunch ladies are getting payed great wages to put packages on trays and no prep work what so ever… Get real you stupid people.

  2. Julia

    This ban will not solve the problem. Parents who are too lazy/busy to fix a proper meal for their children will still purchase happy meals for them, toy or no toy. Obese children happen because their parents fail to provide them with proper nutrition and an active lifestyle. McDonald’s and our fast food joints are being used as a scape goat for poor parenting decisions.

    1. JK

      Excellent point, however, people like Grubstaker will never agree that a choice should be left up solely to the parent. They have too much fun trying to parent the masses.

  3. Grubstaker

    I believe SF has shown deep critical thinking skills and value the health, education, and over well-being of their children and families in general. This is a wonderful precedent to help others debate and move ahead with new ideas to help foster society that helps rather than harms. I believe governments can nudge in positive direction like subsidizing fruits and vegetables so that they can be more readily accessible, affordable, and available to all as well as making companies act responsibly – especially by protecting children. A healthier society reduces overall costs and is more productive in all areas including the arts. I look forward to the day that I have a variety of options of healthy choices on every street corner rather than the ubiquitous fast food restos poisoning the population while getting reductions in taxes and subsidized to do so. I think SF is asking the hard question. What kind of society to we want? A society that looks out for our children or one that harms the health of our children and future.

      1. JoeyF

        Actually, we’re the 2010 MLB World Champions.

        GO GIANTS!

        In addition, San Francisco has been very progressive on social issues, including healthcare access for the poor and mentally disabled.

        Going back to the original article and post, the amount of marketing and misinformation that is pushed from large corporations, like McDonald’s, has definitely contributed to the child obesity and related health problems.

        If we don’t start educating people and helping them make healthier decisions, we will all end up paying for it in the longterm health costs and loss of productivity that comes from chronic obesity, diabetes, heart disease, etc…

        Just some food for thought.

    1. Martin Topper

      I think we want a society that thinks and acts for itself. We definitely DON’T want (or need) an Obama driven government telling us how every phase of our lives should be run. But hey, its San Francisco. They do lots of crazy s— there!

  4. Sarah

    I think this is just ridiculous.Nicole you said it right,Parents will still purchase the kids meal regardless if the toy is in it or not.And they do have options to substitute the greasy fries for apple slices and so on. And not all children who eat fast food grow to be obese. It’s the parents all around lifestyle choices on why kids grow to be that way. Not from a toy in a happy meal.Get real.

  5. Richard

    We the people are cleaning out politics. Write down the names of each politician voting for ridiculous laws like this and next election vote them out regardless of party affiliation. Keep doing this until we clean out those who are wasting our tax money on frivilous matters.This is not governments say it is a parental decision and they should stay out of it.

    1. Mike

      Given the levels of childhood obesity, most parents all over the US don’t have enough intelligence to make good dietary/exercise choices for their kids.

      If I were a parent, I would welcome this because it would put me back in the driver seat and makes it an easier option to go with something better–It gives them less pressure to buy the unhealthy food (i.e the kid creaming/crying because I won’t buy them this Happy Meal + Toy). Now the association of the toy with the bad food is gone.

      1. KDG

        As a parent I have never allowed myself to be “taken out of the driver’s seat”. My children learned at a very early age that crying and screaming will get them no where. They know that I do not buy them Happy Meals because: 1. They are to expensive and 2. They are full of cruddy food that is not good for them.

        I think this is a crazy rule and parents should teach their children what good choices are and why. It’s like teaching a man to fish or doing the fishing for him. One feeds him for a day, the other feeds him for life. Let’s get back to teaching our kids.

  6. Josey

    Personally as a parent i dont like when people try to limit my parenting skills and thats exactly what this ban does. My son like the idea of the haooy meal because it is bright a colored box and he thinks it is a reward. Last time i checked any kid who can go to McDonalds by him/herself will not buy a happy meal but a bigger meal. Happy meals are purchased by the parents not the child and they will probably still be purchased reguardless of a toy or not. San Fran may think that they are setting a great trend but they are from a state who is trying to legalize marijuana.Let parents decide if they will give there kids MCdonalds and focus on more important things.

    1. Bea

      YOU have got to be kidding. What are you like 16? First time parenting? You should be on the side of asking more questions as to WHY…a lot of cities are banning smoking indoors to improve over all health. IN the interest of looking ahead to a healthier future for your child, all you’re doing is encouraging the kid to eat food of no nutritional substance… But yeah, maybe your way is better…let parents like you continue to teach the children of our future what’s more important…toys!

  7. Betsy

    As a parent and nutrition teacher, I am THRILLED that some forward thinking, caring individuals are trying to make things healthier for the next generation. Substandard food and toys to entice kids to push their parents to buy is wrong. Just watch “Food, Inc” or “SuperSize Me” and become an informed consumer. Maybe if we all did the food industry would be forced into providing healthier alternatives and we would stop killing ourselves at earlier and earlier ages.

  8. jason

    Just another way to blame someone else for our problems. Nobody wants to take responsibility for themselves anymore, if I’m fat it must be McDonalds fault. I got a speeding ticket yesterday, I better sue Ford for making cars that go faster than the speed limit. Grow up people and take responsibilities for your own actions. Whoever approved this law should be ashamed of themselves.

  9. Chiquila

    I say if parents want to feed fast food to thier kids, let them. Happy Meals are not rewards. As parents we have to learn that some things are not healthy for our children. But, allow parents to be parents, feeding them McDonalds does not make them a bad parent. What kills me is seeing parents feed fast food to their toddlers. Investigate what goes into the food we eat and feed our families and decide for yourself. Are our babies getting too much suger, saturated fats, etc.? Parents can only make those decisions not society or the government because the government is the culprit behind it all anyway.

  10. James

    I’ll buck the trend here…

    Good points are made about parental choices, etc. And school lunches absolutely need an overhaul. But why do parents choose to take kids to McDonalds over Burger King or Wendy’s? The happy meal. The playground. The clown. The whole thing is designed around catering to kids.

    The obesity epidemic is real. If it’s illegal to have a camel on a pack of cigarettes, then it should be illegal to similarly target little kids for fast food.

    “To provide an incentive item, meals must contain fruits and vegetables, not exceed 600 calories or 200 calories for a single food item and must not have beverages that have excessive fat or sugar.”

    Offering incentives to eat a more healthy meal is not a bad thing. I understand the intellectual argument that parents should be better or smarter than that. But who hasn’t had a day when they’re dog-tired, and just want the kid to leave them alone for a bit? At that point, a stupid star wars toy and a playground can be just enough to tip the argument.

    If the locals are interested enough in sending a political message about not having big corporations try to persuade their kids to eat food that’s unhealthy, we live in a democracy. It’s not a bad thing.

  11. soccermom2

    If they are taking the time to ban McDonald’s what about the other fast food restaurants like Burger King, Subway, Wendy’s. Pretty much every place has a menu for kids that appeals to kids. Its called marketing. Restaurants do the same marketing for adults on a different level. Who do they think they are? It is a parents choice to feed their kids from a menu. I understand they feel like they want to help but it this is ridiculous. Focus on teaching my kids quality in schools and having the right teachers in place and not cuting back on the level of education my children recieve and let me worry about what I feed them when I go to restaurant.

    1. tiagojdferreira

      “To provide an incentive item, meals must contain fruits and vegetables, not exceed 600 calories or 200 calories for a single food item and must not have beverages that have excessive fat or sugar.”

      It’s not just the happy meal.

  12. Ginger

    This is just utterly ridiculous. Just another way government encroaches on our personal lives and freedoms. VETO this thing, toys in fast food is just the foot in the door. What would be next? Dangerous and slippery slope California.

  13. Mike

    Mcdonalds food is crap! They have been targeting kids with toys, the mcDonalds characters, and mass advertising for generations now. If you don’t think they have a grip on kids at an early age, you’re not paying enough attention.

  14. danimal

    Everything in moderation. Just because one person can’t control themselves, doesn’t mean those that can should not have happy meal’s available to them. I remember on occasion as a child that my parents would get me a happy meal as a reward. Its just a treat…think about what has just happened in San Francisco:

    HAPPY MEALS have been BANNED.

    HAPPY BANNED.

  15. Raven

    I’ve worked at McDonald’s now for a little over 3 years and I’ve seen it all. Its not the happy meals or the little toys that are making children fat, but the choices that the parents make after their child has consumed one of these meals. If you feel that your child should play to burn some energy/calories or just go home and go to bed is totally up to them. And like many of you have already said the parent can choose other things other then fries or pop. Not only can you get apples milk or juice, but you can also get bottled water as well. So to try to go as far as baning something is just crazy and it a fight that will not be won. Because parents have the right to choose what they feed their kids, and if they want to get their child a happy meal then they will do just that. And I truly believe that if SF were to pass such a thing that parents would travel else where to get what they want. Which in turn would take money away from SF.

  16. missie

    Anybody liking this is INSANE! A city has to ban a child’s meal… cause god forbid a parent should have to say no to their child. We don’t really do fast food or happy meals, but I would not wanting my city telling me whether I was allowed to order one for my child. They are absolutely nuts up there!!!

  17. Glenna Sadler

    I don’t live in San Francisco, but this will make its way east quickly. This is rediculous. Why are adults allowing themselves to be called too stupid or uncaring to properly feed their children? A Happy Meal once in anwhile is fine, but not as a steady diet. It’s the same with the adult meals. If the adult meals offered some kind of incentive, would they also be banned? The more our lives are regulated, the more we allow it. It is a vicious circle, a Catch 22, if you will. This is so much bigger than a Happy Meal.

      1. Winston Churchill

        They should also require you to buy health insurance, eliminate voting and just put in good socialists who know better how we should run our lives, that way way we can be sure to always do the right thing!

  18. m myers

    omg don’t people have better things to do? If you go to fast food your going to eat junk food! This is really stupid. This is up to parents to make choice weather to eat good or to have junk food! Its not like there eating there every day! Well let see if your going to do mcD why not Burger King, and others, why single out McDS, stupid , stupid, Stupid!

  19. Kelly Jean Hayward

    I think this is a great idea. Ronald McDonald came along and lied to children telling them that hamburgers grew in patches, so I think that it should come as no surprise that McDonald’s would also lie and their food is healthy.

    Getting toys DOES encourage children to ask for the Happy Meal, when on their own they might have made a more healthy decision.

  20. PrettyOldLAdy

    The drug makers and diabetes drug makers take in 10 billion$$$$ every year with no cure!!

    Food Chemicals are the cause of the diabetes and obesity crisis NOT SODA!

    The FDA and Drug makers know this and are laughing to the Billionaire$$$ bank!

    The food chemicals break the gut(insulin) and this is the cause of the diabetes and obesity crisis

    A filmmaker has been reversing diabetes and Obesity in now 10 countries and the drug makers do not promote the story

    just google SPIRIT HAPPY DIET

  21. Max

    People’s liberties are getting taken away one by one everyday. Pretty soon we won’t be able to paint our house a certain color! One word descries this ban: autocracy. As you all can tell I’m a libertarian.

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