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HEU Brewer
Intermediate Member
Username: Heu_brewer

Post Number: 488
Registered: 01-2002
Posted on Wednesday, December 15, 2010 - 06:56 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Consumer group suing McDonald's over toys

REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
On Wednesday December 15, 2010, 1:07 pm
By Lisa Baertlein and Dan Levine

LOS ANGELES/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A U.S. consumer group is suing McDonald's Corp to stop the world's largest hamburger chain from using Happy Meal toys to lure children into its restaurants.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest is representing a Sacramento mother of two in the lawsuit, which alleges unfair marketing and other violations of California's consumer protection law. It does not seek monetary damages.

"The lawsuit is about the change, not the money," CSPI litigation director Stephen Gardner said.

"We are proud of our Happy Meals and intend to vigorously defend our brand, our reputation and our food," said McDonald's spokeswoman Bridget Coffing. "We listen to our customers, and parents consistently tell us they approve of our Happy Meals."

Walter Olson, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and tort reform advocate, said he thinks McDonald's will ultimately prevail but that it will likely have to go through multiple rounds of legal wrangling, which would suit CSPI.

"In the meantime they've got their step toward a national debate, which is what they want," Olson said.

HOT TOYS

McDonald's debuted the Happy Meal in the United States in 1979. Modern offerings have included themed items from popular films like "Shrek" or sought-after toys like Ty Beanie Babies.

The Happy Meal was a huge hit for McDonald's and has spawned me-too offerings at most other fast-food chains.

But lately it also has come under fire from public health officials, parents and lawmakers who are frustrated with rising childhood obesity rates and weak anti-obesity efforts from restaurant operators, which are largely self-regulated.

Those critics say poorly funded education campaigns don't have a chance against fast-food companies, which according to a recent report spent more than $4.2 billion in 2009 on marketing and advertising.

CSPI in June alerted McDonald's of its intent to sue and Gardner said the group had hoped to reach an accord out of court.

Timothy Sandefur, principal attorney at the Pacific Legal Foundation, argues that it is the responsibility of parents to regulate what their children eat.

"Not a child on earth has forced his parent to buy him a McDonald's Happy Meal," Sandefur said.

McDonald's gives consumers the option to swap milk for soda and "apple dippers" -- apple slices with caramel dip -- for fries -- but critics say most Happy Meals are still too high in calories, saturated fat and sodium to be suitable for very young children.

FOOD AND CIGARETTES

Plaintiff Monet Parham, who has two young daughters and works as a health educator for the state of California, said she takes her children to McDonald's about once a month.

Nevertheless, she said, her children constantly ask her to take them to get the latest advertised Happy Meal toy.

"This litany of requests is draining and very frustrating for children," she said. "I would like this practice to stop."

CSPI attorney Gardner said the Happy Meal lawsuit will use the same laws that resulted in a clampdown on cigarette advertising to children.

Gardner said McDonald's is a bigger offender than tobacco companies when it comes to unfair marketing because it targets very young children with tantalizing toys and ads, while the tobacco companies only had Joe Camel, who was less appealing.

He added that parents do not have the responsibility to offset unfair marketing from McDonald's.

"Under the law, you don't blame the victim of deceptive practices," Gardner said.

The class-action suit will to be filed Wednesday in California Superior Court for the district of San Francisco, CSPI said.

Parham is also being represented by private attorney Richard Baker of Baker Law PC in Birmingham, Alabama.

Shares in McDonald's were up 3 cents at $77.14 in midday trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

(Additional reporting by Martinne Geller in New York; Editing by John Wallace and Steve Orlofsky)
 

HEU Brewer
Intermediate Member
Username: Heu_brewer

Post Number: 489
Registered: 01-2002
Posted on Wednesday, December 15, 2010 - 07:00 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

So because parents can't say "NO" we need a nanny state.
 

Robert
Intermediate Member
Username: Okierat

Post Number: 337
Registered: 05-2003
Posted on Wednesday, December 15, 2010 - 10:02 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Look spill coffee on yourself you get money. Kids are fat? Well its not your fault or theirs. Its the evil company that sold you the food. Its not up to you to make sure the food is healthy. Its up to them to make it so.

The consumer has NO power anymore, its up to the gov to save us from ourselves.......
 

Dan Listermann
Senior Member
Username: Listermann

Post Number: 7566
Registered: 03-2004
Posted on Wednesday, December 15, 2010 - 10:05 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

"So because parents can't say "NO" we need a nanny state."

That presupposes that parents are able to control their children. Got any?
 

HEU Brewer
Intermediate Member
Username: Heu_brewer

Post Number: 490
Registered: 01-2002
Posted on Wednesday, December 15, 2010 - 10:53 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Yes Dan, I have 2. Ages 4 and 6 the ripe ages for Happy Meals. When we go to McDonalds (one per month at most) they have NEVER gotten a Happy Meal. We have been doing this ever since our first visit.

I have no problem saying "NO" to my kids.
 

Paul Hayslett
Senior Member
Username: Paulhayslett

Post Number: 2660
Registered: 02-2002
Posted on Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 01:49 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I hate the CSPI. Freaking killjoys. These are the same people who dumped on Cinnabon for being fatty and told us that Chinese take-out has too much salt. Like we didn't know this already?
 

Dan Listermann
Senior Member
Username: Listermann

Post Number: 7567
Registered: 03-2004
Posted on Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 04:08 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

We will see . . .
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 12322
Registered: 01-2002
Posted on Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 12:32 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

The peer pressure based on advertising is huge, as Dan suggests, so much so that parents can sometimes seem nearly powerless. However, I'm not sure legislation banning products outright is the answer. I think regulating the advertising is a more effective measure.
 

Paul Hayslett
Senior Member
Username: Paulhayslett

Post Number: 2661
Registered: 02-2002
Posted on Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 01:35 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I don't know, Bill. Are we going to regulate where supermarkets put the candy and gum, too? My kids are 16 and 13 now, but I clearly remember going shopping with them at 6 and 3. (I've always done most of the shopping and cooking at our house.) You are trapped forever in the checkout aisle with two tired, hungry, cranky kids and loads of sugar within easy reach, even from the seat in the shopping cart. Think the supermarket manager didn't do that on purpose? Of course he did. Saying "no" took a little work, which wasn't always easy if I was tired, hungry, and cranky myself. But it's part of the job.

Don't want that part? Don't have kids.

It's not like it's going to get any easier as the kids get older. My current issue with my son is that he is not allowed to have friends in the car while he is driving for another 5.5 months. He's pushing hard. "C'mon. We won't get caught. It's only 2 miles to the movie theater." Etc. If I was such a pushover that I couldn't deny my kids a Happy Meal at 6, how the hell could I impose any sort of limits when they are 16 and possessed of infinitely more guile and perseverance?

No one said parenting would be easy. It's tempting to think that government help will lighten the load, but it won't.
 

Paul Hayslett
Senior Member
Username: Paulhayslett

Post Number: 2662
Registered: 02-2002
Posted on Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 01:41 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

BTW, you can lessen the pressure from advertising too, if you want to. In our house, we just never watched TV until the youngest was 10. No broadcast TV; parent-approved videos only. Even now, they are on tight restrictions, including nothing, nothing at all, during prime time. Sounds totally hard-ass, I know. But it means a boatload less whining about not having the things they see advertised.

(Of course, that means no TV for my wife and me either. Not one prime time show in 20 years. But if you can't say "no" to yourself, you'll never be able to set limits with your kids. Maybe that's the problem with us as a nation. We spoil our kids because we can't set limits with ourselves.)
 

Denny Conn
Senior Member
Username: Denny

Post Number: 7479
Registered: 01-2001
Posted on Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 05:16 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Watch prime time PBS shows and you won't have to worry about the ads.
 

Doug Pescatore
Senior Member
Username: Doug_p

Post Number: 2278
Registered: 10-2002
Posted on Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 05:35 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Throw the case out...market cigarettes to kids...yeah then take it to court but marketing fast food to kids...so what....Do we ban lady's night at the local bars because it lure guys into bars and they (gasp) drink?

My kids are now teens but before thier teen years they got fast food maybe 5 times a year.

Doug
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 12323
Registered: 01-2002
Posted on Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 05:59 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I had friends who were so incensed when their daughter received coupons at school for Happy Meals (as a prize for solving a math puzzle) that they pulled her out of the regular program and began home schooling her. It seems McDonald's had partnered with the schools in some kind of rewards program.

My friends had also purchased a timer for their TV that allowed only a limited amount of viewing at certain hours, and later they gave their daughter a cell phone that restricted calls and texts only to and from a predefined list of numbers.

I sympathized with their goals to limit the influences on their child, but I just don't think it's realistic to think you can shield children entirely from the world. To do that effectively you would need to be part of an isolated and self-contained community such as the Amish or a commune somewhere in a remote area.
 

Dan Listermann
Senior Member
Username: Listermann

Post Number: 7568
Registered: 03-2004
Posted on Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 06:19 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

And the chance of a radical backlash should not be easily dismissed.
 

HEU Brewer
Intermediate Member
Username: Heu_brewer

Post Number: 491
Registered: 01-2002
Posted on Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 07:37 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Great posts Paul!

Actually I LOVE being a parent of a 6 and 4 year old this time of year. As soon as I hear any whining or complaining...out comes the phone and I start dialing Santa's number.
 

HEU Brewer
Intermediate Member
Username: Heu_brewer

Post Number: 492
Registered: 01-2002
Posted on Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 07:43 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Bill we have received those McDonald coupons as well. Guess what? They go in the garbage and the kids do not know about it. If we do take them out for a McDonalds treat they do not get a Happy Meal.

Believe me I am no health nut (I enjoy a Big Mac and a coke) but I will not fall into that trap. Since I am ordering off the menu I can control what they get, usually milk and a cheeseburger and fries.
 

Paul Hayslett
Senior Member
Username: Paulhayslett

Post Number: 2664
Registered: 02-2002
Posted on Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 08:18 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

My kids are hardly cloistered. My daughter goes to the regular public school and my son goes to a vo-ag in a nasty part of downtown New Haven. I'm sure both could buy pot or ecstasy on any given day without leaving school grounds. I can't supervise all of their internet time. My son has an unrestricted cell phone.

Setting limits doesn't mean denying reality. It means teaching self-control. That's why banning Happy Meals doesn't help. If you eliminate temptation then you can never teach kids to stand up to it.

Dan, a backlash is always possible. But just letting go doesn't guarantee success either. I see that with my wife's cousin, whose parents could never say "no" to anything. At 21, he has neither degree nor job, smokes like a chimney, and already has 2 DUIs.

My kids are already at ages where I cannot control them. In particular, my son can now drive himself to McDonalds and order a Big Mac and fries if he wants. I have to trust that the lessons taught when they were younger will guide them as they go through the normal process of rebelling against me. Eating right is one of those lessons, taught partially through many, many explanations of why we won't be going out for fast food.
 

Ric Heinz
Intermediate Member
Username: Rheinz

Post Number: 481
Registered: 01-2004
Posted on Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 08:21 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Interesting discussion...

If you shield your childern from "real life", what will happen when they have to deal with it themselves (as we all must do at some point in our lives) and you are not there to guide them?

For the record: I have two daughters in their late 20's and no weight issues. We ate at McDonalds enough that I wished they just sold a yearly unlimited family pass. As for me, I can't stand the smell of the place and haven't been in one for probably 15 years.
 

Dan Listermann
Senior Member
Username: Listermann

Post Number: 7569
Registered: 03-2004
Posted on Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 09:35 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Hey, we get grandchild #2 the first week of Jan.! A granddaughter! I believe that these things are specially designed to be spoiled.

Grandson, 8, for Xmas, gets a framed poster of the opening credits to the "Three Stooges." Curly of course!
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 12324
Registered: 01-2002
Posted on Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 10:52 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Dan, I smile at the image of you spoiling your grandkids. I suspect you know better than to spoil them on the likes of Happy Meals. But I suppose there is something to be said for taking your grandson fishing, letting him have a sip of your beer and telling him, "This is just our little secret."
 

Dan Listermann
Senior Member
Username: Listermann

Post Number: 7570
Registered: 03-2004
Posted on Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 10:59 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Our "little secret" was that we fed the beagle a bit of bacon at the camp. I told him to not tell his grandma. The first thing out of his mouth when we got home was,"Grandma, we didn't feed Maggie any bacon."
 

Mike G.
Intermediate Member
Username: Mikeg

Post Number: 382
Registered: 04-2005
Posted on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 02:34 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Hey, interesting reading all your thoughts on this one-

especially Paul's gem, "Setting limits doesn't mean denying reality. It means teaching self-control"
 

Daniel Bishop
Junior Member
Username: Whatshisface

Post Number: 69
Registered: 01-2009
Posted on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 09:42 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

In case you were wondering what's next.

http://www.mlive.com/news/index.ssf/2010/12/is_mcdonalds_bad_for_kids_how.html
 

Dan Listermann
Senior Member
Username: Listermann

Post Number: 7578
Registered: 03-2004
Posted on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 09:50 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I am not one to be picky about my burgers, but I had one at Hooters that just was not good. No, I don't need to be reminded about why I went there in the first place.
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 12348
Registered: 01-2002
Posted on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 11:46 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Hooters is hardly racy, and frankly, both the food and the atmosphere are a little dull. I can think of any number of places with better wings, as well as better looking servers if that's what you're seeking.
 

dhacker
Senior Member
Username: Dhacker

Post Number: 2289
Registered: 11-2002
Posted on Wednesday, December 22, 2010 - 03:51 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Aren't we all inexorably attracted to "Hooters" from the day we're born?

For some, itís a matter of survival!
 

Mike Huss
Senior Member
Username: Mikhu

Post Number: 2286
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Wednesday, December 22, 2010 - 10:54 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Our kids get fast food more often than they should according to the "experts" and they watch far more tv than they should. And guess what? The 5 year old is smack dab in the middle of her normal healthy weight range and the 8 year old is skinny as a bean pole.

Government and "consumer groups" telling us what we can and cannot eat is a huge load of crap.

It's all about the parenting, period. If parents weren't lazy kids wouldn't be fat and lazy too. It's NOT McDonald's fault.
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 12350
Registered: 01-2002
Posted on Wednesday, December 22, 2010 - 11:27 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Mike, it's also about heredity. Your children may be blessed with good genes that lessen their chances of being overweight. Even so, they are likely to gain weight from early adulthood to middle age. Statistics show that the average person gains 30 lbs. from age 20 to age 50. Of course once again it's possible heredity is in their favor and they will enjoy proper weight throughout their lifetime.
 

dhacker
Senior Member
Username: Dhacker

Post Number: 2290
Registered: 11-2002
Posted on Wednesday, December 22, 2010 - 11:37 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

. . then if they become beer drinkers, all bets are off.

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