McDonald's sued over "happy meal"

The Center for Science in the Public Interest has sued McDonald's in California over the fast-food giant's use of toys as come-ons to kids to purchase their products.

According to an NPR dispatch, "The lawsuit asserts that under California's consumer protection laws, McDonald's toy advertising is deceptive. It targets children under 8 years old who don't have the ability to understand advertising."

The class-action suit does not ask damages. It seeks only to stop the toys being used.

"Marketing to kids is an end-run around parental control," said Stephen Gardner, CSPI's director of litigation, adding. "This is about the change, not the money."

A McDonald's spokeswoman responded to the suit by saying the company will defend itself vigorously. 

"We stand on our 30-year track record of providing a fun experience for kids and families at McDonald’s. We listen to our customers, and parents consistently tell us they approve of our Happy Meals. 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."

That's chutzpah, to call McDonald's food "quality" or "right-sized" products. Convenient, cost-effective, sure. But who goes to the arches for the quality?

As for the toys, the spokeswoman did not seek to rebut the contention that the toys are offered specifically to entice young people who are unable to discern between fact and puffery. Perhaps it will in court.

Author and wellness innovator Michael Prager helps smart companies
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