Don’t ever say that clowns aren’t clever. After San Francisco passed a ban aimed to prevent McDonald’s and other fast-food chains from giving toys away with kids’ meals that do not meet the city’s nutritional standards, the chain has simply started charging a nominal fee for them instead.
The Healthy Foods Incentive Ordinance was passed in San Francisco last fall and officially went into effect earlier this month in an effort to decrease the amount of high-fat and high-sugar meals targeted at the city’s youth.
And not to break the law, McDonald’s restaurant-goers in San Francisco will now have the option of paying 10 cents for the Happy Meal toy traditionally included in the kids meal for free. The company says that proceeds from the sales will benefit the Ronald McDonald House—a charity that helps to support the families of seriously ill children, but consumer advocates and those in favor of the bill see it as the fast-food chain finding a loophole that will still allow them to target the Happy Meal audience.
San Francisco’s decision came under criticism from restaurant chains and health experts, calling the efforts “misguided” and suggesting that more focus be put on school lunches and physical fitness curriculums aimed at instilling healthy food choices and exercise habits in children.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that obesity in children has more than tripled in the last 30 years and one out of every three children are either overweight or obese.
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