New law takes 'joy out of the Happy Meal'

New law takes 'joy out of the Happy Meal'
Photo: Flickr user franzconde (CC License).

PORTLAND, Ore. – San Francisco has become the first major city in the country to ban the old-fashioned Happy Meal, McDonald's boxed menu offering with a gift for kids.

On Tuesday, Nov. 2, the California city's Board of Supervisors voted 8 to 3 to stop restaurants from offering free toys with any meals containing more than 600 calories. Many Happy Meals fall within that range, given that a cheeseburger comes in at 300 calories, a hamburger at 250 calories and a kid-size fry at 230. That majority vote is veto proof.

Under the new law, fast-food kids meals also must contain fruits, vegetables and beverages without excessive fat or sugar to qualify for toy inclusion.

A McDonald's spokesperson, however, says the law will take the joy out of the Happy Meal.

The measure starts next December. So, as of Dec. 20, 2011, San Francisco restaurants will no longer be able to offer free toys with meals containing higher levels of calories, sugar and fat.

CNN reports that the proposed ordinance is part of a "food justice movement." To be sure, McDonald's kids lunch isn't the only target here. About 50 fast-food restaurants in the San Francisco area use giveaway toys, according to CNN.

In the CNN report, officials said they hope their measure would encourage similar standards across the country. The San Francisco proposal was modeled after a similar law for unincorporated Santa Clara County, also in California.

What do you think of this move? Will it take the joy out of your Happy Meal, or is it an idea that's right for the times?