December 16, 2010

Mother Suing McDonald’s Over Happy Meal Toys

A California mother is pursuing a class-action lawsuit against McDonald's, claiming that the fast-food chain is luring kids into eating unhealthy food.

Monet Parham is the frontrunner of this lawsuit backed by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), aimed at stopping McDonald's use of toys in marketing its Happy Meals for small children.

CSPI says that such marketing illegally exploits children, and Parham says that the main reason her six-year-old daughter asks to go to McDonald's is to get toys.

"I am concerned about the health of my children and feel that McDonald's should be a very limited part of their diet and their childhood experience," said Parham, from Sacramento.
"But as other busy, working moms and dads know, we have to say 'no' to our young children so many times, and McDonald's makes that so much harder to do."

CSPI cited the Institute of Medicine and the American Psychological Association as saying that "kids as young as Maya do not have the cognitive maturity to understand the persuasive intent of advertising."

"Every time McDonald's markets a Happy Meal directly to a young child, it exploits a child's developmental vulnerability and violates several states' consumer protection laws," CSPI litigation director Steve Gardner told AFP.

The fast-food giant said that it would defend itself against the lawsuit, which Parham and the CSPI said they were filing in the California Superior Court in San Francisco.

"We are proud of our Happy Meals and intend to vigorously defend our brand," spokeswoman Bridget Coffing told the LA Times newspaper, adding that Happy Meals offer quality foods in smaller portions appropriate for children.

"We are confident that parents understand and appreciate that Happy Meals are a fun treat, with quality, right-sized food choices for their children that can fit into a balanced diet," she added.

The action comes as San Francisco agreed last month to ban promotional toys served with food that does not meet strict nutritional standards, following a similar move in nearby Santa Clarita in April.


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