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Looks like there are going to be some unhappy meals in Northern California.
San Francisco is cracking down on happy meals and the fast-food toys in them in an effort to combat childhood obesity. According to Reuters, the recently passed San Francisco ordinance would require the happy meal to be of certain nutritional value before being allowed to place a toy with the order. The San Francisco happy meal toys law is similar to one recently passed in nearby Santa Clara County.
The ordinance will take effect on Dec. 1 and will only allow fast-food toys in those orders with less than 600 calories and contains fruit and vegetables and low-sugar beverages. San Francisco Supervisor Eric Mar says, "Our children are sick. Rates of obesity in San Francisco are disturbingly high, especially among children of color. This is a challenge to the restaurant industry to think of children's health first and join the wide range of restaurants that have already made this commitment."
Whether the requirements will encourage healthy eating habits remains to be seen. Opponents of the ordinance are not happy about the meal requirement. In 2006 McDonald's spent $520 million in 2006 on happy meal toys advertising in an effort to lure children into their fast food establishments for the latest and greatest toy, Reuters reports.
McDonald's and the National Restaurant Association aren't happy about the change to their wildly popular toy-filled kids meals, citing customer demand as their main reason for opposition. In addition to the potential financial impact, McDonald's argues that the toys are part of the overall family experience at a given chain. In the end, putting health into a happy meal is a welcome experiment, the success of which ultimately falls on the parents paying for the meals and not the children. The ordinance was passed 8-3.