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Are the toys included with McDonald's fat-ladened Happy Meals illegal under consumer protection laws? A class action lawsuit claims so.  (Source: Strange Cosmos)

The issue is made more complex by the fact that govenrment farm subsidies are helping keep junk food artificially cheap, and those subsidies are unlikely to go away anytime soon. Thus the government is already intervening to promote cheap junk food.  (Source: ChattahBox)
"Happy Meals" not so happy for children's health, say plaintiffs

America's obesity epidemic is more severe than that of any other large industrialized nation.  In America today, over 30 percent of adults and 15 percent of children are obese.  More so than any other medical issue, obesity is crippling the U.S. economy and health care system.

On Wednesday, a landmark lawsuit was filed by the Center for Science in the Public Interest accusing McDonald's, America's largest fast food chain, of luring children into unhealthy eating with toys in "Happy Meals".

Monet Parham, a mother of two in Sacramento, was one of the sponsoring plaintiffs in the case and comments, "I object to the fact that McDonald's is getting into my kids' heads without my permission and actually changing what my kids want to eat."

Remember Joe Camel?

The case is similar in some regards to the class action lawsuits filed against Camel Cigarettes over its use of the "Joe Camel" cartoon character.  While eating junk food isn't illegal for children like smoking cigarettes is, many physicians say the risks associated with obesity are as bad as smoking cigarettes or worse.  It should be noted that Camel Cigarettes was forced to discontinue its iconic character and settle its lawsuits out of court for a tidy sum.

Could the Happy Meal be next?

Lawyers for the CSPI say that McDonald's is both harming children by luring children with the toys and harming its competitors which no longer offer similar prizes with their kids meals.  States Steve Gardner, CSPI litigation director, "Every time McDonald's markets a Happy Meal directly to a young child, it exploits a child's developmental vulnerability and violates several states' consumer protection laws, including the California Unfair Competition Law."

The group was also critical of McDonald's claims that it had made its Happy Meals "healthier" by adding Apple Dippers or low-fat milk as options.  They point out that fries and pop are still the most commonly served options for the Happy Meal.

CSPI executive director Michael Jacobson states, "McDonald's congratulates itself for meals that are hypothetically possible, though it knows very well that it's mostly selling burgers or chicken nuggets, fries, and sodas to very young children."

McDonald's spokesperson Bridget Coffing refused to directly comment on the lawsuit, but defended the happy meals, stating, "We are proud of our Happy Meals and intend to vigorously defend our brand, our reputation and our food.  We are confident that parents understand and appreciate that Happy Meals are a fun treat, with quality, right-sized food choices for their children that can fit into a balanced diet."

What the Suit Means to American's Health, The Fast Food Business

The idea of government courts policing American's eating habits and replacing the role of proper parenting is controversial.  And its important to note that government intervention is partly responsible for the 
success of fast food, as farm subsidies have reduced the cost of beef and corn to much lower levels than Europe and Asia.

For McDonald's, the suit couldn't have come at a much worse time.  The company was just hit by a massive data loss, in which it may have lost as many as 13 million customers' names and email addresses.  And over the last couple years the company's image has been damaged by the nonfiction best-seller/documentary 
Supersize Me.

The case is significant for other fast food companies, as well.  Depending on its outcome, other competitors, like Taco Bell, which does often offer toys with kids meals, may have to eliminate them as well.  And if the practice is condoned by the court, competitors who aren't offering toys may feel compelled to keep up.

In other words, this super-size case may ultimately be the prelude to the U.S. government either practicing a hands-off policy as Americans' waists swell; or opting to try to force consumers to healthier options, via either court rulings or legislation.



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RE: Seriously lady?
By YashBudini on 12/16/2010 9:08:09 PM , Rating: 0
We used the McD's lawsuit in criminal justice classes to show how the law works, and for how professional ethics really do not exist.

The dumb comments about the incident come from people who got all their info on the case from Jay Leno.

The law works most of the time asking what a reasonably prudent would do or expect. Well the average Jane who spills her coffee in this manner would expect 1st or maybe 2nd degree burns, not scarring to the point where surgery is required just so she can urinate again.

So where are all the local pro-corporate-at-all-costs pubs to put all the blame on her now?

And for the arsehole pubs who claim such lawsuits should be limited please note the judge in fact reduced the award. We already have a way to limit awards, what the pubs want is to reduce them to the point where corporations don't even feel it, you know, like what the SEC did to Wall St after their shenanigans collapsed the global economy. They barely slapped GS's wrist, what a farce of a fine. Cheney did far less damage in Nigeria, but is paying out $250 million:

http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/africa/12/14/nigeria...

And for other conservatives with the hands off business theory here's BP after they learned their lesson:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40689080/ns/us_news-wi...

Yeah, not really. Once corporate scum always corporate scum. Remember that while you kiss their butts.


RE: Seriously lady?
By Dr of crap on 12/17/2010 9:41:16 AM , Rating: 2
So in your world everything should come with a warning label since you don't know how it's going to be used by everyone.
"Gee, I didn't know if I poured gas on my leg and dropped a cigarette on it, I will get burned!"

She, the lady with the coffee, should have realized SHE did the wrong thing. Being burned was the out come.

Can I sue for damages if I open a can of beans, drip some liquid on the floor as I'm moving to the stove, slip on this liquid and cut my thumb off as I fall to the floor, and burn my hand on the stove as I'm trying to keep from falling!
And yes that IS the same as what this lady did.
This should have NEVER been brought to a court setting.
This is the same as good parenting. The fact that she thought that spilling the coffee was in some way not fully her fault is just crazy.
We need a common sense filter on the court system.

Why do I need a "warning coffee is hot" label on the coffee cup?
DUH, it's coffee. If it wasn't hot they wouldn't sell much of it.
A good cup of coffee should be made at 190 or hotter to make it good!


RE: Seriously lady?
By YashBudini on 12/17/2010 10:48:39 PM , Rating: 1
Your inability to grasp what I said (versus your impression) and inability to understand how the law works is not my problem.

Reading comprehension courses are available in your area.


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