Suit will say toys in Happy Meals break the law
WASHINGTON — Are the toys in your children’s Happy Meals making them fat?
The Center for Science in the Public Interest says they are. The Washington-based consumer advocacy group threatened to file a lawsuit against McDonald’s yesterday, charging that the fast food chain “unfairly and deceptively’’ markets the toys to children.
“McDonald’s marketing has the effect of conscripting America’s children into an unpaid drone army of word-of-mouth marketers, causing them to nag their parents to bring them to McDonald’s,’’ CSPI’s Stephen Gardner wrote to the heads of the chain in a letter announcing the lawsuit.
The center, which has filed dozens of lawsuits against food companies in recent years, is hoping the publicity and the threat of a lawsuit will force McDonald’s to negotiate with them on the issue.
The group announced the lawsuit in the letter to McDonald’s 30 days before filing it with the hope that the company will agree to stop selling the toys before a suit is filed.
McDonald’s vice president of communications, William Whitman, said in a statement that the company “couldn’t disagree more’’ with CSPI’s assertion that their toys violate any laws. He said McDonald’s restaurants offer more variety than they ever have and Happy Meals are made smaller for children.
“We are proud of our Happy Meal, which gives our customers wholesome food and toys of the highest quality and safety,’’ Whitman said.
“Getting a toy is just one part of a fun, family experience at McDonald’s.’’
CSPI says the suit would be filed in state court.
The center has not settled on a state yet, but the group believes the toys in Happy Meals violate state consumer protection laws in Massachusetts, Texas, the District of Columbia, New Jersey, and California.
California’s Santa Clara County voted earlier this year to ban restaurants from giving away the toys and other freebies that often come with high-calorie meals aimed at children.