Saturday, December 3, 2011

McDonalds triumphs again

In the wake of Congress' "pizza is a vegetable" debacle I was happy to see San Francisco's politicians make a move in the right direction. Unfortunately their final rule has such a large loop hole that it leaves me to question the sincerity of their intentions. If you haven't heard the law it goes like this: As part of a Healthy Food Incentives Ordinance, San Francisco legislators passed a law that restaurants are longer allowed to give away toys with kids’ meals that do not meet defined nutritional standards. The meals must have fewer than 600 calories, less than 640 milligrams of sodium, and contain a minimum of a half-cup of fruit and three-quarters of a cup of vegetables in non-breakfast meals. Drinks must obtain less than 10 percent of their calories from added sugars.

Did you catch the loop hole there? They can't "give away" the toys. Never fear! Ever clever Ronald McDonald was ready and waiting with a work-around. San Fran McD's will now sell the toys for an additional (read: measley) 10 cents when you buy a Happy Meal. Burger King is following suit. However Jack-in-the-Box has kindly agreed to comply. (Three cheers for Jack-in-the-Box)!

I appreciate the sentiment of the San Fransisco politicians but they may have been preaching to the choir. People who don't feed their children fast food have already resisted the lure* of the Happy Meal toy. People who do feed their children fast food (for whatever reason) are not going to be diswayed by a tenth of a dollar.

Thanks San Fransisco but better luck next time. Read more about the American Psychological Association's opinion on the issue here.

*I cannot deny the power of those toys. I'm 33 years old and I still have four of my FAVORITE Happy Meal toys (Muppet Babies on bikes and skateboards) on my bookshelf in my living room. In my opinion kids are better off never developing at taste for, and ultimately an addiction too, such high sodium foods - even at the expense of fabulous pop culture knick knacks.

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