McDonald's Charges For Happy Meal Toys to Avoid Changing Nutritional Standards

McDonald's is offering toys for just 10 cents to customers who buy Happy Meals to bypass a San Francisco law banning them from giving the toys free.

The law is set to go into effect Thursday and it was implemented to discourage people from buying the high-sugar meals. The law also said McDonald's cannot give the toys for free until they meet the city's nutritional requirements.

The legislation was passed last fall and is an attempt to combat obesity. City officials want fast food chains to put more fruits and vegetables into their meals.

Scott Rodrick owns 10 McDonald's franchises in the city and said he is not thrilled about the law but does not intend to fight it.

"This law is not what my customers wanted or asked for, but the law's the law," said Rodrick to The San Francisco Chronicle.

Instead of changing the nutritional standards, Rodrick will charge an extra 10 cents for customers who want a toy with their Happy Meal. Other McDonald's owners in San Francisco have also made the move.

"It complies with the letter of the law," said Rodrick. A portion of the toys’ sales will go to charity.

Health officials are divided on McDonald's business move. Supervisor Eric Mar, chief sponsor of the law, said the legislation is a success.

"McDonald's and the others are gradually moving in the direction we want...But I think that we in San Francisco, and Santa Clara County before us, are making them move more quickly than they would have otherwise. But there's still a long way to go," said Mar.

Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy at CSP, described the move as "cynical."

Wooten told Reuters: "McDonald's knows how to make food fun...They just need to try to maker healthier food fun for kids -- use that marketing brilliance that they have to promote health instead of undermine it."

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