Since the introduction of the McDonald’s Happy Meal in 1979, toy giveaways have been a primary vehicle for marketing junk food to kids. Today the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted in favor of the “Healthy Food Incentives Ordinance” to limit toy giveaways in children’s meals that have excessive calories, sodium and fat, making San Francisco the first city in the U.S. to take such action.
The measure will certainly help the First Lady as well, in her fight against children obesity. Her sustained campaign is what inspired the fine folks from Corporate Accountability International to lobby for the ordinance, which passed on first reading with a veto-proof majority of 8-3. Beginning December 1, 2011 fast food companies in San Francisco will have to find other ways to attract their younger customers than toy giveaways.
It is a clear fight against large fast-food chains like McDonald’s (and its surrogates) that usually serve food that is less healthy than traditional food served by smaller, local establishments. In fact, according to the official press release, more than a dozen local restaurants supported the measure, joining an eclectic mix of public health professionals, educators, parents, organizations, small businesses, community advocates, and faith leaders.
Naturally, McDonald’s and other fast food giants in San Francisco opposed the measure, employing public relations means like aggressive lobbying to public officials. Now, the same lobbyists will need to put on their creative thinking caps, to find other means to sell fast food to kids. Considering that many people don’t see any harm in marking to children, making it all the responsibility of the parents, the PR machine will not have a too difficult job…