Those ironically named McDonald’s Happy Meals are in the news again.
A Sacramento mom named Monet Parham is filing a class-action lawsuit “aimed at stopping McDonald’s use of toys to market directly to young children,” according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which is aiding the suit.
Here’s the suit, which will be filed in San Francisco today, CSPI says.
Northern California is fast becoming a hotbed of anti-Happy Meal activism. Last month, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a law, over Mayor Gavin Newsom’s veto, requiring that meals dished out with promotional toys meet certain nutritional requirements. I’m not sure if the city’s Healthy Meal Ordinance mentions McDonald’s by name, but I’m pretty sure the legislation wasn’t aimed at Gary Danko’s.
According to the FTC, big food companies, including fast-food restaurants like McDonald’s, spent $1.6 billon marketing to children in 2006.
Scott Shafer interviewed CSPI litigation director Stephen Gardner this morning about the lawsuit. In this first clip, Gardner says the lawsuit was filed to force McDonald’s to stop using toys to “bribe kids.”
Clip 1 [audio:http://ww2.kqed.org/news/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2010/12/cspimcd1.mp3]
Here, Gardner discusses San Francisco’s ban on toys with fast food meals and his response to the argument that parents, not government, should be responsible for what kids eat.
Clip 2 [audio:http://ww2.kqed.org/news/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2010/12/cspimcd2.mp3]
Finally, Gardner discusses why he prefers to litigate in California.
Clip 3 [audio:http://ww2.kqed.org/news/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2010/12/cspimcd3.mp3]
Here’s McDonald’s reponse to the lawsuit, sent by Bridget Coffing, a company spokesperson.
We are proud of our Happy Meals and intend to vigorously defend our brand, our reputation and our food.
We stand on our 30 year track record of providing a fun experience for kids and families at McDonald’s.
We listen to our customers, and parents consistently tell us they approve of our Happy Meals. We are confident that parents understand and appreciate that Happy Meals are a fun treat, with quality, right-sized food choices for their children that can fit into a balanced diet.
Not mentioned in the statement is durability, addressed in this blog post that tracked the condition of a Happy Meal over the course of an entire year.