McDonald's Happy Meal Toys May Soon Be Illegal

Suzanne Murray

mcdonalds happy meal illegalMcDonald's Happy Meals aren't doing their job. In fact, they're making one consumer group in particular very unhappy.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has demanded that McDonald's stop using Happy Meal toys to lure kids into the fast food chain. If the company doesn't comply within 30 days, the group says it will sue McDonald's on the basis that toy-related promotions violate consumer protection laws.

"Tempting kids with toys is unfair and deceptive, both to kids who don't understand the concept of advertising, and to their parents, who have to put up with their nagging children," says Michael Jacobson, the executive director of the CSPI.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, fast food companies, led by McDonald's, spent more than $520 million on advertising and toys to promote children's meals.

The latest Happy Meal promotion from Micky D's is toy watches based on the Shrek Forever After characters Shrek, Donkey, Gingy, and Puss in Boots. And the company says the Shrek-themed Happy Meals are aimed at encouraging kids to eat more fruits and veggies. But CSPI says that kids are given fries 93 percent of the time with those meals (without requesting them).

In 2007, McDonald’s pledged it would not market foods with more than 600 calories and high fat and sugar content to kids. But, according to CSPI, of the 24 possible Happy Meal combinations that McDonald’s features on its website, all exceed 430 calories. Getting kids used to eating burgers, fries, and soda puts them at greater risk of developing obesity, diabetes, and other diet-related diseases.

So shouldn't parents take responsibility and just say no to Happy Meal toys?

Jacobson says,

"I'm sure that industry's defenders will blame parents for not saying ‘no’ to their children. Parents do bear much of the responsibility, but multibillion-dollar corporations make parents' job nearly impossible by giving away toys and bombarding kids with slick advertising."

Would you like to see Happy Meal toys outlawed or do you think parents should be responsible for saying "no" to their kids?


Image via gadgetdude/Flickr

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