Consumer Group Sues McDonald's Over Happy Meal Toys

Author: Shannon Ford
Published: December 15, 2010 at 11:12 am

First some citizens of San Francisco wanted to ban circumcision. Now another consumer group is suing McDonald's in a San Francisco-area court over the toys given in Happy Meals. 

The Center for Science in the Public Interest is suing the McDonald's Corporation, claiming that giving toys to children with Happy Meals is deceptive.  The following are direct quotes from the CSPI's complaint:

“McDonald’s exploits very young California children and harms their health by advertising unhealthy Happy Meals with toys directly to them.” and “Children 8 years old and younger do not have the cognitive skills and the developmental maturity to understand the persuasive intent of marketing and advertising.”

I really want to see the CSPI's side here.  I don't just want to go to the oft-cited argument that it's up to parents to control their children's fast food intake.  As a parent, I have to fight a million stupid little battles every single day, and sometimes I would like society to pitch in and eliminate a few of the sources of those battles. 

Additionally, I recognize that I might not have enough perspective to make an adequate judgment here.  I am a middle-class mom living in a midwestern suburb.  I'm educated about nutrition.  I am physically present with my child most of the time.  I can afford to feed him other foods besides McDonald's, and to reward him in other ways besides giving him fast food.  (Mind you, we still eat at McDonald's.  Full disclosure: I wrote that circumcision article while at a McDonald's playland.) 

I don't pretend to understand the struggles of impoverished families living in urban areas where McDonald's is a much more ubiquitous and affordable treat.  Clearly the anti-McDonald's battle must be much harder for parents living in such circumstances.  I think consumer groups have a responsibility to protect this very vulnerable population.

Continued on the next page

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Article Author: Shannon Ford

I am a stay-at-home mom with a preschool-aged son, living in the south Chicago suburbs. I also have a husband and a large cat. My #1 goal in life is to be a writer. Or maybe that's #2. Goal #1 is probably to be thin. Also, I'm kind of a smartass. …

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