McDonald’s Fined $1.8 Million In Brazil For Toy Giveaway
December 8, 2011
Fast food giant McDonald’s is facing a fine of $1.8 million
from the government in Sao Paolo after a consumer activist group complained
about the company giving away promotional toys along with Happy Meals. The Instituto Alana, a Brazilian nonprofit, claimed that the
free toys with the kids’ meals "distorts values" and encourages
"unhealthy eating habits" among children. After logging its complaint
to Procon-SP, part of the Sao
Paulo government's Department of Justice and Defense
of Citizens, the fine was levied against McDonald’s.
Arcos Dorados, McDonald's largest
franchisee in Latin America, said in a statement that
the company has already filed an appeal of the fine, and is awaiting a final
decision that is expected within three months. While McDonald’s also said that
it does not discuss the details of unsettled lawsuits, the company added that
it adheres to voluntary regulations agreed to by other major food companies
operating within Brazil
and other global markets.
In fact, McDonald’s has already overcome the complaints of Intituto Alana. The organization recently filed a similar
grievance about promotional toy giveaways with Brazil's
self-regulatory body, Conar, but it was rejected.
Brazilian business magazine Exame reported in June
that Conar's ruling said that the Instituto
Alana "doesn't have the Stalinist right to decide how [parents should]
raise children and form their habits."
McDonald’s and other fast-food companies are also facing
criticism of promotional toy giveaways with high-calorie kids’ meals in the United
States. A new law went into effect last week
in San Francisco that bans
restaurants from giving away any toys with kids’ meals that don’t meet certain
calorie thresholds. Local McDonald’s in San Francisco
have decided to charge 10 cents for the toys they hand out with Happy Meals,
saying that they’re donating the proceeds of those sales to charity.