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Burger King joins McDonald's in charging extra for kids meals in SF

By Sudhin Thanawala

Associated Press

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 02:39 p.m. HST, Dec 01, 2011


SAN FRANCISCO >> Burger King has joined McDonald's in charging for kids' meal toys to comply with San Francisco's ban.

A new city law that took effect Thursday bans free toys with kids' meals that are high in fat, sugar and salt. It is designed to encourage nutritional fast food for youngsters.

McDonald's and Burger King decided to charge a dime for the trinkets.

McDonald's is using the toy money to build a Ronald McDonald House for families of young patients at the new University of California, San Francisco, Medical Center at Mission Bay.

Burger King spokeswoman Kristen Hauser tells the San Francisco Chronicle that Burger King hasn't decided what to do with the toy proceeds.

Eric Mar, the San Francisco supervisor who sponsored the ordinance, called the 10-cent charge a "marketing ploy," but said he doesn't plan to make any changes in the ordinance to address the tactic.

The goal of the law was not to micromanage fast-food chains but to raise awareness about the nutritional content of the food, he said, pointing to McDonald's switch to apples and smaller portions of french fries in Happy Meals as an example of the success of the law.

"We feel that our efforts to create healthier options forced the industry to acknowledge their role in childhood obesity," he said about the law that also goes into effect Thursday.

Scott Rodrick, who owns 10 of the 19 McDonald's franchises in the city, said the 10-cent charge was intended to adhere to the letter of the law while giving consumers what they want.

"Our customers expect a company like McDonald's to comply with that law and every other law, but they also expect us to deliver an experience they've grown accustomed to," Rodrick said.

The law, which followed similar legislation in nearby Santa Clara County, requires fruits and vegetables to be served with each meal that comes with a toy.

Supporters of the law say the toy giveaways made children clamor for the meals and contributed to high childhood obesity rates. Opponents call it government regulation run amok and an intrusion into people's private choices.

McDonald's has made changes to improve the nutritional value of its Happy Meals. Since September, Happy Meals in California come with apples and smaller french-fry portions. Although the moves still don't meet San Francisco's strict requirements, Rodrick said it's an indication of the company's commitment to providing healthier food options.

All McDonald's in the United States will offer Happy Meals with apples and smaller french-fry portions by March 2012, said Ashlee Yingling, a spokeswoman for the company.







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toomuchpilikia wrote:
Baloney..This is micromanaging what kids eat. This is about a community regulating the fast food industry plain and simple. The target of your agenda should be to the adults who allow the purchase of such items. Leave private business alone! Make your child a sandwich and sliced apples with a glass of juice at home. Stop trying to control what others would like to have as an option.
on December 1,2011 | 05:41AM
Carang_da_buggahz wrote:
This is hilarious! Leave it to "government" to micro-manage the affairs of free enterprise. And better yet, witness the cleverness and resourcefulness of free enterprise to carry on, even in the face of burdensome, cumbersome, and foolish intervention by our nanny state. Yet another example of the saying, "We're from the government and we're here to help". Why does it not surprise me that this idiotic government attempt to force it's will upon the American public come from, where else, San Francisco?
on December 1,2011 | 08:18AM
medigogo wrote:
Good move. About time. To those who assert it's the parent's duty and leave private business alone - Parents have no choice but many times had to feed the kids with the junk food. I always wonder why the soda companies won't offer the same drinks with half sugar inside. Now we have either full sugar drink or diet kind. Why not half or 1/3 sugar? Same with the fast food chains. That will give consumers more options. Just came back from Europe, still amazed how unhealthy US kids and adults are.
on December 1,2011 | 08:23AM
hilopango wrote:
Whose kids are these? The private business's kids? The government's kids? Of course not, these kids BELONG to the parents. Therefore, it is the parent's responsibility to take care of their kids in ALL aspects. Like the guy who sued McD's because he was obese, NO ONE is forcing ANY of these things down anyone's throats. Who said you had to drink soda at all? Who said you had to give in to buying your kid a Happy Meal? ABSOLUTELY NO ONE. It is of your own free will that you CHOOSE to do these things. The blame, therefore, belongs to no one but yourself. Everyone wants to blame someone else for their own shortcomings and weaknesses.
on December 1,2011 | 10:31AM
stanislous wrote:
When the government gets involved... the cost of everything goes up.
on December 1,2011 | 09:09AM
Oye_Como_Va wrote:
Well, what did everyone who voted for the 'local boy' expect? His wife can eat foods that she tells everyone not to eat.
on December 1,2011 | 10:02AM
Bobbiejeanne wrote:
Give me a break. Parents do have a choice concerning what they feed their kids. Don't buy them soda if it has too much sugar! It's not up to private companies to bend. It's up to parents to tell kids no.
on December 1,2011 | 01:25PM
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