San Francisco Moves Closer to Fast-Food Toy Marketing Curbs

McDonald’s, Other Chains Exploit Children by Using Toys to Market Junk Food, According to CSPI

November 9, 2010

WASHINGTON—The controversial practice of using toys to market unhealthy fast-food meals to children was dealt another blow today by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. By a vote of 8 to 3, the board gave final approval to a measure sponsored by Supervisor Eric Mar that requires meals sold with toys not to exceed ceilings for calories, fat, sugar, and sodium, and to contain a half a cup of fruit and at least three-quarters of a cup of vegetables.

“That’s good news for San Francisco’s parents and children,” said Center for Science in the Public Interest executive director Michael F. Jacobson. “It’s time for fast-food companies to stop exploiting children in order to sell more junk food, and this measure would at least set basic nutrition standards for meals sold with toys. Fatty meat, French fries, white flour, and sugary drinks are the last foods we should encourage kids to eat.”

The measure now heads to the desk of Mayor Gavin Newsom, now the Lieutenant Governor-elect. Newsom has indicated he may veto it, but it seems the board has enough votes to override a veto. The Santa Clara, Calif., Board of Supervisors passed a similar measure in April.

“I hope that other health-conscious legislators around the country adopt their own laws to discourage the marketing of unhealthy foods to young children who, after all, do not yet have the cognitive ability to understand the persuasive intent of marketing,” Jacobson said. “That would deliver a strong message to McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s that those companies should not use toys to market foods or to limit the inclusion of toys to only healthier meals.”

Separately, CSPI will soon send its own message to McDonald’s about toy-based marketing. It is planning on filing a lawsuit aimed at stopping the practice of using toys to lure children to Happy Meals—a practice that CSPI says is unfair and deceptive.


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