As Promo Toy Ban Takes Effect, McDonald's Fights Back
December 1, 2011
In San Francisco
today, a legally mandated ban on promotional toys included with high-calorie
meals goes into effect. Initially passed through the San
Francisco legislature late last year in an effort to
fight childhood obesity, the law states that promotional toys (like those
included in meals at establishments such as McDonald's and Burger King) can't
be given away with kids' meals that exceed 600 calories or lack fruit or
vegetables. Since the law was passed in San Francisco,
many fast-food chains have worked on making their kids' meals healthier by
offering apple slices and other alternatives. Also, Jack In
The Box announced earlier this year that it has pulled promotional toys
from its kids' meals altogether.
Some McDonald's outlets in San
Francisco, though, have found a loophole in the law
that is allowing them to continue to hand out toys with kids' meals, even as
the ban goes into effect today. While the law states that promotional toys
can't be "given away" with high-calorie kids' meals, nothing is
stopping restaurants from charging for the toys. So, some local McDonald's have
begun to ask consumers to pay 10 cents, which will be donated to charity, to
get the toys with their kids' meals.
"This law is not what my customers wanted or asked for,
but the law's the law," said Scott Rodrick, who
owns 10 of the 19 McDonald's franchises in the city. While he had considered
lowering the price of the kids' meals to offset the new cost of the toys, Rodrick said his outlets surveyed customers and found that
they felt the new charge was "fair and reasonable." And, as far as
adhering to the new law, Rodrick says his restaurants'
new charge for the toys "complies with the letter of the law."
Proceeds from the toy sales at McDonald's franchises in San
Francisco will be used to help build a new Ronald McDonald House to temporarily
house families with sick children at the new UCSF Hospital, which is now under