Happy Meal Toys Officially Banned in San Francisco

I’ve covered the development of this San Francisco story for months, and it seems that it has finally come to an end, a happy one for those opposed to predatory child marketing and McDonald’s Happy Meals.

For a little background, as I wrote in our first post on this story, when the Happy Meal toy ordinance had just moved through the Board of Supervisors Land Use Committee:

We know that fast food is bad for us. It’s filled with excessive calories, sodium and fat. It’s “meals” are often based largely on meat, which is very damaging to the environment as well as our health.

Yet, we seem to think it’s completely alright to use toys and other kid-oriented incentives to entice children to eat fast food and get them hooked on the habit early. McDonald’s, alone, spends hundreds of millions a year on toy promotions…. And it rakes in $40-50 billion a year from kids 12 and under, plus another $670 billion on “family” purchases.

Well, apparently some folks in San Francisco have decided that this is completely inappropriate and predatory marketing.

The ordinance was approved by the Land Use Committee, and then the Board of Supervisors (despite much opposition from McDonald’s and some delays), and then was vetoed by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.

Yesterday, however, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors barely overrode Mayor Newsom’s veto with a vote of 8-3.

While Mayor Newsom considered the ban well-intentioned, he stated that the decision to buy Happy Meals and other fast food was up to parents and the ban went too far beyond government’s jurisdiction. Of course, 8 San Francisco Supervisors thought otherwise. While it is up to parents what their children eat, they viewed this system as pure, predatory marketing that harmed the health of kids in their area.

Looks like a big win for those opposed to our fast food culture, and potentially a big loss for McDonald’s. The ban will take effect in December 2011.

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Photo Credit: Stéfan via flickr (CC license)