November 30, 2011

McDonald's to stop offering free Happy Meal toys in San Francisco

McDonald's and other fast food chains will have to stop including toys as part of meals for children beginning tomorrow in San Francisco. 

The city will begin enforcement of an ordinance that prohibits toys included in kids meals with more than 600 calories, don't include a fruit or vegetable, or include a sugary drink. 

The Oak Brook-based burger giant will instead be offering toys for $0.10 when Happy Meal or Might Kids Meal, meant for older children. 

"A law was passed recently which means we cannot give away a free toy with our Happy Meals and Mighty Kids Meals in these restaurants," McDonald's spokeswoman Danya Proud said in a statement, adding that while the chain's 19 restaurants in the city, "will fully comply with this law, we also have a responsibility to give our customers what they want."

"Parents have told us they'd still like the option of purchasing a toy separately for their child when they buy them a Happy Meal or Mighty Kids Meal," she said. 

Proceeds will go to the Ronald McDonald House of San Francisco.

Happy Meals generally include four-piece chicken nuggets, hamburger or cheeseburger, fries and apple slices, and milk, chocolate milk or apple juice. Soda is an option, but parents must request it. Mighty Kids Meals are made up of six-piece chicken nuggets, double hamburger or cheese burger, and fries or apple slices, with the same drink choices. 

In addition to containing fewer than 600 calories, a fast food kids meal must include fruit and vegetables unless served at breakfast, have less than 640 mg sodium, less than 35 percent of calories from fat, and a beverage that gets less than 10 percent of its calories from added sweeteners, and less than 35 percent of its calories from fat in order to legally include a toy in San Francisco.

"While McDonald's has made positive changes to the Happy Meal that customers approve of, the ordinance includes very strict requirements that the new Happy Meals don't meet," Proud said.

In July, McDonald's announced that it would revamp its kids' meal to include a fruit or vegetable with every meal, including a smaller sized fry, and ditching caramel sauce for a smaller-sized package of apple slices. McDonald's also added fat-free chocolate milk as a beverage option.

These meals are already being sold in Chicago and California. McDonald's expects the new meals to have been introduced in its 14,000 U.S. stores by the end of March 2012.

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