US city bans toys in some fast-food kids meals
Published: November 10,2010
SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco has become the first major American city to prohibit fast-food restaurants from including toys with children’s meals that do not meet nutritional guidelines.
The city’s Board of Supervisors gave the measure final approval Tuesday on an 8-3 vote. That’s enough votes to survive a planned veto by Mayor Gavin Newsom.
The ordinance, which would go into effect in December of next year, prohibits toy giveaways in fast-food children’s meals that have more than 640 milligrams of sodium, 600 calories or 35 percent of their calories from fat. The law also would limit saturated fats and trans fats and require fruits or vegetables to be served with each meal with a toy.
“Our effort is really to work with the restaurants and the fast-food industry to create healthier choices,” said Supervisor Eric Mar, the measure’s chief sponsor. “What our kids are eating is making them sick, and a lot of it is fast food.”
The legislation is a big victory for activists and public health advocates who have charged food marketers with being complicit in the country’s growing childhood obesity rates. They hope other cities and counties nationwide will follow their lead.
“This will be a sign to the fast-food industry that it’s time to phase out its predatory marketing to children at large,” said Deborah Lapidus, a senior organizer with Boston-based Corporate Accountability International, a watchdog group that supported the legislation.
Supervisors and activists who support the measure say they hope obesity-curbing efforts like the one approved Tuesday will eventually spread to other cities, states and the country. A similar ordinance has already been approved in California’s Santa Clara County, where it affected about a dozen restaurants.
Newsom, meanwhile, said he plans to veto the ordinance, which he called an “unwise and unprecedented governmental intrusion into parental responsibilities and private choices.”
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