Food happy meal

Published on November 24th, 2010 | by Zachary Shahan

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San Francisco Supervisors Override Mayor Newsom — Happy Meal Toys Officially Banned

Happy Meal Toys Officially Banned in San Francisco

I’ve covered the development of this San Francisco story for months, and it seems that it has finally come to an end, a happy one for those opposed to predatory child marketing and McDonald’s Happy Meals.

For a little background, as I wrote in our first post on this story, when the Happy Meal toy ordinance had just moved through the Board of Supervisors Land Use Committee:

We know that fast food is bad for us. It’s filled with excessive calories, sodium and fat. It’s “meals” are often based largely on meat, which is very damaging to the environment as well as our health.

Yet, we seem to think it’s completely alright to use toys and other kid-oriented incentives to entice children to eat fast food and get them hooked on the habit early. McDonald’s, alone, spends hundreds of millions a year on toy promotions…. And it rakes in $40-50 billion a year from kids 12 and under, plus another $670 billion on “family” purchases.

Well, apparently some folks in San Francisco have decided that this is completely inappropriate and predatory marketing.

The ordinance was approved by the Land Use Committee, and then the Board of Supervisors (despite much opposition from McDonald’s and some delays), and then was vetoed by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.

Yesterday, however, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors barely overrode Mayor Newsom’s veto with a vote of 8-3.

While Mayor Newsom considered the ban well-intentioned, he stated that the decision to buy Happy Meals and other fast food was up to parents and the ban went too far beyond government’s jurisdiction. Of course, 8 San Francisco Supervisors thought otherwise. While it is up to parents what their children eat, they viewed this system as pure, predatory marketing that harmed the health of kids in their area.

Looks like a big win for those opposed to our fast food culture, and potentially a big loss for McDonald’s. The ban will take effect in December 2011.

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Photo Credit: Stéfan via flickr (CC license)






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About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy since 2009. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the founder and director of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.



  • http://community.importantmedia.org/davidanderson/ David Anderson

    Keep in mind that the exact wording of the ban is that it only applies to food that doesn’t “meet nutritional standards” — whatever that means. It’s a slippery slope, and ultimately a symbolic move. blah.

    • http://www.zacharyshahan.com Zachary Shahan

      Yes, that it is a “Happy Meal Toy Ban” is a generalization. Specific wording from the ordinance is:

      “To provide an incentive item, meals must contain fruits and vegetables, not exceed 600 calories or 200 calories for a single food item and must not have beverages that have excessive fat or sugar.”

      via EatDrinkBetter: http://eatdrinkbetter.com/2010/11/25/happy-meal-ban-in-san-francisco-is-official/

  • http://Web Pete W.

    Once again goverment shows how mis-guided it is; show me in the constitution where the goverment is supposed to run peoples lives. I thought we where supposed to have freedom of choice in most things we do. What’s next? Ban Chocolate/sugar for making people fat, maybe Buffet restraunt’s since most people eat too much, or how about beer and alcohol since we know the problem with those, or wait we have a history lesson for that! Idiot’s, time to vote them out!!

    • http://www.zacharyshahan.com Zachary Shahan

      Pete W.: it’s just banning the toy from meals that are clearly bad for kids. the toy tactic is clear predatory marketing.

      • http://community.importantmedia.org/davidanderson/ David Anderson

        I’m a big lefty liberal, but I have to say that in this case, I buy the slippery slope argument and would have supported Newsom’s veto. The city does have more important things to worry about. Also, this is obviously just one expression of a larger problem. You can ban each instance of predatory marketing individually, so where do you go from here?

        To me, this is like trying to swat a million fruit flies one at a time when you should really be looking for your basket of rotten fruit and starting there…

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