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Jack In The Box To Remove Toys From Kids’ Meals

June 22, 2011

A spokesman said Tuesday that fast-food chain Jack in the Box pulled toys from the kids’ meals.

According to Reuters, the move comes after fast-food companies are under pressure to stop using toys to market children’s meals that are high in calories, sugar, fat and salt.

Lawmakers in San Francisco and nearby Santa Clara County passed laws that will require kids’ meals to meet certain nutritional standards before they can add toys to the mix.

“While we’ve been aware of efforts to ban the inclusion of toys in kids’ meals, that did not drive our decision,” Jack in the Box spokesman Brian Luscomb said in a statement.

“Our advertising and promotions have focused exclusively on the frequent fast-food customer, not children,” added Randy Carmical, also a Jack in the Box spokesman.

Carmical said the company has been more focused on the food in its meal for children, such as grilled cheese sandwiches or grilled chicken strips.  He said the company pulled toys from the meals when it began offering parents the option of substituting sliced apples with caramel sauce instead of French fries.

“We believe that providing these kinds of options is more appealing to a parent than packaging a toy with lower-quality fare,” Carmical said in a statement.

Organizations and advocates critical of the fast-food industry have praised Jack in the Box’s efforts.

“It’s terrific that Jack in the Box has taken this step,” Margo Wootan, nutrition policy director at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), told Reuters.  “It’s really a monumental step that I hope their competitors will emulate.”

CSPI sued McDonald’s Corp. in December to stop it from using Happy Meal toys to lure children into its restaurants.

Consumer and health advocates are using the announcement to put pressure on McDonald’s, Burger King, Taco Bell and other fast food chains that still include toys in kids’ meals.

According to Wootan, toy giveaways make up over half the marketing expenditures in the fast-food industry, with $360 million spent annually to put toys in kids’ meals.

Jack in the Box has about 2,200 restaurants in the U.S. and is the fifth-largest hamburger chain.

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