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Fast Food finds a way around the law

FoodFacts.com knows that many in our community have strong opinions regarding the fast food industry and how it affects our children’s health. We knew the following information would be valuable as you continue to make healthy food choices for yourselves and your families.

Beginning today, McDonald’s and other fast food chains in San Francisco will, by law, have to stop giving  toys away with their children’s meals. The city of San Francisco begins today to enforce the ordinance that prohibits including toys in any children’s meal that contains more than 600 calories, doesn’t include a fruit and vegetable or does include a sugary drink. We’re read a lot of conflicting opinions about these new requirements on fast food restaurants like McDonald’s — everything from fast food chains shouldn’t be patronized by adults, let alone children, ever … not even as a treat, to it’s the responsibility of parents and not the government to determine what their children consume and there should be no laws or requirements that restrict the habits of the public.

But, what if McDonald’s and other chains like it actually found a way to comply with the new law and basically give away the toys anyway? Are they doing something wrong? Are they being a smart business organization? Are they morally bankrupt? Or are they upholding the rights of people to decide for their children’s diet themselves, without government interference?

These are interesting questions, and we’ll all have to form opinions, because that’s exactly what the 19 McDonald’s restaurants in San Francisco have done. That’s right, they’re complying with the law, and anyone ordering a happy meal who wants a toy will now have to pay for it.

You might think that’s a deterrent to a child getting the happy meal to begin with.

Think again. The toy will only cost .10. And, in addition, that .10 will go directly to the Ronald McDonald House. Do you think that might be specifically designed to make the parents spending those ten pennies feel better about their kids eating all those greasy, fried, and sometimes strange ingredients?

But McDonald’s is not breaking the law. So now, by law, McDonald’s doesn’t need to make sure its kids’ meals contain less than 600 calories, include fruits and vegetables and don’t include any sugary drinks. That’s because, in reality, the consumer is paying for the toy … even if it costs a dime and that dime is being donated to the Ronald McDonald House charity.

So, for McDonalds anyway, all’s right with the world (or at least with San Francisco) … they comply with the law, they don’t have to change the ingredients in their children’s menu, Ronald McDonald House charities makes some money and the kids get the toys they wanted in the first place. Legislators heads may very well be spinning right now, because this is not the way things were supposed to unfold.

But, is everything alright for our children?

FoodFacts.com would like to get our community’s opinions on this very important subject. Do you think it’s o.k. for the fast food industry to market to children with toys (even if you have to pay .10 for them)? Or do you think that perhaps children’s meals don’t belong at McDonalds or Burger King or any other fast food establishment. After all, maybe if they weren’t there at all,  future generations of adults would be far better off in the long run.

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