Happy Meal Ban: City, Health Activists Chagrined by McDonald's

Categories: Politics
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McDonald's toyed with San Francisco
Earlier: Happy Meal Ban: McDonald's Outsmarts San Francisco

How the Happy Meal Ban Explains San Francisco

It seems the phrase "like stealing candy from a baby" is due for retirement. When describing a malicious act committed with ease, the new phrase is "easier than eluding San Francisco's Happy Meal ban."

As SF Weekly broke Tuesday, local McDonald's restaurants found a remarkably simple method of sidestepping the city's new ban on unhealthy meals being incentivized with toys -- which takes effect Dec. 1. Instead of giving away a toy with a Happy Meal, San Francisco McDonald's restaurants will now require Happy Meal purchasers to make a 10-cent charitable donation to Ronald McDonald House in order to receive their coveted trinket. Ironically, a law intending to prevent fast food outlets from using the allure of toys to push unhealthy food may now be accentuating that practice. Prior to the city's "Healthy Meal Incentive Ordinance," buyers could simply purchase a McDonald's toy for $2.18. Now, however, only those who buy the Happy Meals are allowed to obtain the toys.

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The mastermind
The McDonald's solution appears to comply with San Francisco's law against toys included with restaurant meals, as obtaining the toy is now a separate transaction. Our calls to the city attorney's office regarding their reading of the situation have not yet been returned. Yet city officials and health care advocates at the forefront of the move to curtail toys in fast food meals were taken aback by the move -- and not very happy.

Samantha Graff, a senior staff attorney with Public Health Law & Policy, and Charlotte Dickson, the director of local policy for the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, learned about the McDonald's ploy by reading SF Weekly.

Graff's organization devised the state's first law against including toys in unhealthy fast food meals, which was adapted by Santa Clara County and, later, San Francisco. McDonald's "has developed a response to the law that allows them to continue marketing this unhealthful food to children in the midst of an obesity crisis," she says. "Not only have they attempted to do that, they've added in the veneer of additional whitewashing by linking the whole thing to charitable contributions."

Charitable contributions to "kids with cancer," notes Dickson. "It's really only a matter of time before parents basically say 'enough.'"

That may be. But, barring further city action, it seems that call is in parents' hands.

Reached on his cell phone, Supervisor Eric Mar, the architect of San Francisco's Happy Meal Maginot Line, was loath to criticize the Golden Arches. He noted that the company has "made steps in the right direction," and then hurriedly took a call from another reporter. SF Weekly has been unsuccessful reaching him since. We will update this story when we get a hold of the supervisor once more.  

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31 comments
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Expertonlineseo
Expertonlineseo

Parents who care so little about their kids that they'd feed 'em this fantasy hockey

crap on the regular are gonna find myriad ways to shave years - and quality - off their kids' lives by encouraging their obesity and nutrient deficiency Happy Meals or no Happy Meals.

Zetaclear21
Zetaclear21

According to Mar later told reporters, Mar was the one taking his daughter to McDonald's and buying the food but he said that the "pester power" of a preteen was simply too much for him to withstand on his own. So he proposed that the city ban restaurants from including toys with meals of more than 600 calories that lack agreed-upon amounts of fruits and vegetables.

Adobe Courses
Adobe Courses

Around 6 thousand kid fatalities can be stopped every year, if low-cost wellness treatments are offered to the moms and kids in need. Healthy and well-educated kids promote the community, its economic growth and municipal energy of a land.

PavePusher
PavePusher

Hey Joe, are you ever going to revisit the lies and inaccuracies in your Nov. 18 column?

Miccmack2006
Miccmack2006

No toy products should be dislayed or introduced to sell a meal to a child.

spice incense
spice incense

i think my girls didn't like this news as its really like stealing candy from baby although they are charging separate for toys that they are giving with happy meals but the kids loved them a lot and Graff's had to think again on their decision they make with attorney and Charlotte Dickson.

San Francisco Music
San Francisco Music

SanFrancisco is among the most popular cities in the USA located in the state ofCalifornia. San Francisco is a city that is not considered to be a touristdestination in the proper sense of the word but it draws the interest of peoplefrom all over the world coming to enjoy its beauty. There are many places ofinterest in the city that are inherited from the rich cultural and historicalheritage of the area.

The Sanity Inspector
The Sanity Inspector

Okay, a number of things are at work here. Proggs feel themselves to be shouldered with the responsibility to run everyone else's affairs. Since proggs disapprove of commerce, feeling that everyone should really be knitting Mexican wedding shirts on some hippie commune instead, successful companies offend them. And since proggs believe that they are endowed with the wisdom to build, craft, plan, construct the perfect Erewhon society of the future, the natural, organically evolved society they live in also offends them. Also, as the general population gradually becomes accustomed to the idea that government should take over individual responsibilities, the government naturally looks for ways to both extend and entrench itself in this new role, and also to make its job easier. The more money government has to spend forcing people to get healthy, the less there is for other purposes. And there is also the psychological phenomenon known as transference. As California's astronomical debt burden crushes the state flat, acivists and the government avoids the problem by screaming louder and louder about trifles such as Happy Meals.

Bitha
Bitha

Cant wait until the sf boys start telling gays what to eat, for their own health

The Sanity Inspector
The Sanity Inspector

"But, barring further city action, it seems that call is in parents' hands."

You nanny-statists say that like it's a bad thing....

The social plans are all different, the social planners are all alike.

A Decoy
A Decoy

another great way to rip you off get your money and make MD = Mothers Breast = MD more rich!  EAT YOUR INSECURITIES AWAY. did you ever notice that the yellow M  on the big sign at MD looks like a womens tits or breast? it hypnotizes you into thinking your a breast fed baby there for you get hungry. MCDONALDS MEANS = MC BREAST EAT YOUR INSECURITIES AWAY  JUST LIKE A BAY CHILD.

Neoconpunk
Neoconpunk

Shows how stupid libtard politicians are. What idiot couldnt have foreseen this simple solution to a piece of crappy legislation. Go ronald!

HELLS ANGELS FRISCO
HELLS ANGELS FRISCO

 everybody in Frisco is a Libtard stupid so get used to it or move to Alabama.

Transit
Transit

Alabama blows, too, buddy.

kellog64
kellog64

that is very simple because the simps on the BOS have never run so much as a popsicle stand.

UrbanUndead
UrbanUndead

While the intent was good, I hafta agree, it was an astonishingly dumb attempt.

Parents who care so little about their kids that they'd feed 'em this crap on the regular are gonna find myriad ways to shave years - and quality - off their kids' lives by encouraging their obesity and nutrient deficiency Happy Meals or no Happy Meals.

Parents Suck
Parents Suck

 I bet your parents fed you the same greasy slop when you were a snot nosed brat kid. your a hypocrite.

UrbanUndead
UrbanUndead

Sorry, Mr/Ms, ah, "Suck," but you are incorrect. My parents chose not to feed me garbage. Fresh, wholesome, pasture-raised bbbbrrrraaaaaiiiinnnnsss only!

Bitha
Bitha

the intent WAS NOT GOOD

DONT BE SO NAIVE

THE INTENT IS TO CONTROL $$ SO MCD etc have to come begging $$$ for mercy

YOU'RE INTO BRIBES???? FOR POLITICIANS I WOULD HOPE NOT

Transit
Transit

*You're* illiterate.  Congrats.

jagua2010
jagua2010

Grear move McDonalds!! Screw SF and their stupid ordiances!!

Detroyes
Detroyes

I hate McDonalds food, but in this case I'm on their side. Its none of the City of San Francisco's business what McDonalds does or does not sell with their food.

Christopher Cook
Christopher Cook

Actually, it is, and should be, our business. You and I pay taxes for public health, and we pay the costs of chronic heart disease, diabetes and obesity stemming from lifetimes of eating too much fast food. This isn't just about whether we like their food as individuals--it's about public health and future generations, and a business model that's set up to produce and market junk food that only seems cheap but really isn't.

Unchecked
Unchecked

I love it when idiotic, brain damaged California liberals get kicked in the groin. Get a life and, to borrow a phrase, "get your laws off my hamburger."

JohnnyMcDonald
JohnnyMcDonald

Bwahahahahaha!!!!! Ronald McDonald-1, Stupid San Francisco Liberals-0.

Christopher Cook
Christopher Cook

Wrong. It's McDonald's 1, Kids' Health 0. This isn't the "nanny state," this is an effort to improve public health, which we all pay for, including (perhaps) you...if you pay taxes. Wake up and smell the fries--they smell good, but writ large they're a public health disaster.

____
____

Hey CC - how has this piece of legislature "improve public health"?  Do you mean by fattening up Mickey D's bottomline?

Brant
Brant

Thank you for visiting SFWeekly.com and commenting with Disqus, both San Francisco companies, and thereby lining the pockets of "Stupid San Francisco Liberals"

Please come again. 

Dana Woldow
Dana Woldow

Having read the ordinance, I don't see anything in there which mandates that "only those who buy the Happy Meals are allowed to obtain the toys." If that is the new policy of the SF McDonald's franchises, then that policy is being set either by McD or by the francisee, not by the ordinance.

Christopher Cook
Christopher Cook

That's right Dana--this reporter, per his usual snarky approach, chose to blame the ordinance, instead of either reporting it straightforwardly or seeing clearly that McD's is using a clever PR campaign to skirt compliance.

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