McDonald's Kids' Meals Less Happy in San Francisco

Bowing to Ordinance, Fast-Food Chain Cuts Out Toys in Kids' Fare

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McDonald's, the world's largest restaurant chain, will stop giving out Hello Kitty figurines or any other toys with its Happy Meals in San Francisco starting tomorrow because of a new city ordinance.

"A law was passed recently that means we cannot give away a free toy with our Happy Meals" at the 19 McDonald's stores in San Francisco, spokeswoman Danya Proud said in an e-mailed statement today. Parents can buy a toy for 10 cents along with a Happy Meal or Mighty Kids Meal, she said.

Restaurant meals in San Francisco can't include a free toy unless they have less than 600 calories, contain fruits and vegetables, and have a beverage that doesn't have excessive sugars or fats, according to the City and County of San Francisco website.

The city's Healthy Meal Incentive law seeks to reduce childhood obesity and help kids develop healthier eating habits. About 12.5 million, or 17%, of U.S. children and adolescents aged 2 to 19 are considered obese. That's almost triple the rate in 1980, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"This clearly illustrates that McDonald's is feeling the public pressure," said Sara Deon, campaign director at Corporate Accountability International, a Boston-based group that advocates that companies act in the public interest. "We'll continue to see cities and towns across the country address this," she said.

Legislation pending in Michigan and New York also would ban eateries from distributing toys with meals that don't meet certain nutritional standards.

McDonald's Happy Meals usually consist of a cheeseburger, hamburger or Chicken McNuggets, along with fries, apple slices and a drink. The company, based in Oak Brook, Ill., recently began offering fat-free chocolate milk.

In July, McDonald's said it would start putting apple slices and smaller packets of fries in Happy Meals in the U.S. this year. All 14,000 U.S. locations are expected to have apples in first-quarter 2012, the company said. The change reduces calories in kids' meals by 20%. Jack in the Box, a San Diego-based fast-food restaurant, pulled toys from its kids' meals in June. The 2,200-store chain also began serving 70-calorie apple bites with caramel in its kids' combos this year.

Burger King and YumBrands' Taco Bell restaurants give away toys in children's meals.

-- Bloomberg News --

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