NEW YORK (Reuters) – Several New York City council members unveiled a bid on Tuesday to ban toy giveaways in fast-food restaurant meals for children, emulating a San Francisco city law that will be enforced later this year.
City Council Deputy Majority Leader Leroy Comrie, who plans to introduce the bill on Wednesday, said banning toy giveaways would reduce the allure of fast-food restaurants for children and encourage the industry to provide healthier options.
“While I recognize that ensuring children have access to, and eat more, nutritious meals is ultimately the responsibility of their caretakers, the City Council can empower parents by making it harder for the fast food industry to target children with predatory marketing techniques,” he said in a statement.
A similar law was approved in San Francisco late last year and is due to go into effect on December 1.
Opponents of these moves include the National Restaurant Association and McDonald’s Corp, which used its now wildly popular Happy Meal to pioneer the use of free toys to market directly to children.
Mason Smoot, vice president and general manager for McDonald’s New York region, said taking away toys from children’s meals would not solve childhood obesity.
“On average, kids eat at McDonald’s about three times a month; that means about 87 other meals are eaten at home, school or elsewhere. That adds up to a discussion larger than toys,” Smoot said in a statement.
“We provide options for our customers and trust them to make the decisions that are right for their families. Politicians should too,” he said.
Think NYC believes ALL of its residents need help determining calorie and sodium counts? Think again (bolded emphasis added by me):
These regulations are nothing new. New York already bans trans-fats, and in 2008 the city began requiring fast-food restaurants to post calorie information (which I wrote about here and here). The city only targeted fast food; those super fancy restaurants where they serve bone marrow and foie gras (basically pure animal fat) were exempt from the regulation (rich people must be better at determining when they can eat a high-fat meal).
Other cities have instituted similar regulations. San Francisco famously banned Happy Meal toys last year. Philadelphia requires posted calorie information, and, in a move that smacks of racism, the Los Angeles City Council actually barred new construction of fast-food restaurants — but only in neighborhoods where the residents are primarily African-American and Latino. Nice.
I swear, you cannot make this stuff up!