San Fran Bans Happy Meals
SAN FRANCISCO -- San Francisco's board of supervisors has voted to ban most of McDonald's Happy Meals as they are now served in the restaurants, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The measure will make San Francisco the first major city in the country to forbid restaurants from offering a free toy with meals that contain more than set levels of calories, sugar and fat.
The ordinance would also require restaurants to provide fruits and vegetables with all meals that come with toys for children.
After the vote, McDonald's spokeswoman Danya Proud said, "We are extremely disappointed with today's decision. It's not what our customers want, nor is it something they asked for."
The ban, already enacted in a similar measure by Santa Clara County, was opposed by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom who was vying to be lieutenant governor in last week's election. But because the measure was passed by eight votes -- one more than is needed to override a veto -- his opposition doesn't matter unless one of the supervisors changes his or her mind after the promised veto, according to the newspaper report.
The ordinance, scheduled to take effect in December 2011, said restaurants may include a toy with a meal if the food and drink combined contain fewer than 600 calories, and if less than 35 percent of the calories come from fat.
Supporters of the ban claim it will help protect children from obesity, while opponents see it as just the latest example of the nanny state run wild and say it's the parents' right and responsibility -- not the government's -- to choose what's right for their children.
The Los Angeles Times noted that McDonald's is not the only fast-food chain to offer toys with children's meals, but because it is so prominent the company has become a key face of opposition to the ban.
Daniel Conway, spokesman for the California Restaurant Association, said the industry could respond in a number of ways. Some might continue to include toys but charge separately for them. Others might reformulate their meals so that they comply with the law. Restaurants might also simply stop offering children's meals altogether, he said.