Tuesday, October 19, 2010

San Francisco considers limits on toys in less healthy happy meals

San Francisco is considering restrictions on toy giveaways in quick service restaurant meals for children, unless the meals include fruits or vegetables and are within food energy limits.

I have little interest in revisiting the big philosophical division on this topic.  Many, but not all, public health and nutrition folks will endorse restrictions on fast food meals for children.  Many, but not all, pro-business economists will be skeptical.

To me, what is interesting in each new policy proposal of this type is how it draws a slightly different line between the proper scope for government regulation or restraint.  In this case, San Francisco is not proposing to tell restaurants what food they can serve, nor even to tell them what food they may serve to children.  San Francisco also is not forbidding restaurants to give toys to children.  Instead, more specifically, the proposal forbids restaurant companies from using toys to entice children to eat less healthy meals.

Even so, McDonald's is responding vigorously to the proposal, taking out full-page newspaper advertisements in the San Francisco Chronicle:
We believe in kids.  That probably doesn't come as news.  Kids and McDonald's have always gone together....  That's why we started offering Happy Meals made with white meat Chicken McNuggets and always make our hamburgers with 100% real beef....  We also believe in kids helping other kids.  That's why a portion of the proceeds from every Happy Meal we sell is donated to Ronald McDonald House Charities.  Because we believe in kids.  And that will never change.
Here are the newspaper's related letters to the editor.

Supporters and opponents can contact the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to offer input.  A former student, now working with Corporate Accountability International, sends a link to the advocacy group's page for supporters of the proposed ordinance. 

1 comment:

Amelia said...

I can't believe McDonald's is bragging that they "always make our hamburgers with 100% real beef". What on earth would be the alternative?! Until they say they make their burgers with 100% pasture-raised, grass-fed beef, I won't be impressed.