April 5, 2012

2 Min Read
California Court Tosses Happy Meal Toy Lawsuit

SAN FRANCISCOMcDonalds Happy Meals are smiling a little wider today after the California Superior Court in San Francisco dismissed a class-action lawsuit filed against fast-food giant alleging its Happy Meals are in violation of California's consumer protection laws because they exploit children's vulnerability to lure them to "nutritionally unbalanced meals" with toys.

The lawsuit was filed in December 2010 by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) on behalf of Monet Parham, a Sacramento, Calif., a mother of two who claimed her young children ask to go to McDonalds to get toys based on characters like Barbie, i-Carly, Shrek and Strawberry Shortcake. The lawsuit called McDonalds strategy of unfair and deceptive marketing" is entirely by design.

USA Today reported McDonald's spokeswoman Danya Proud said the lawsuit was without merit and detracted from "the important issue of children's health and nutrition."

"We are proud of our Happy Meals and will vigorously defend our brand, our reputation and our food," Proud said. "We stand on our 30-year track record of providing a fun experience for kids and families at McDonald's."

In 2011, McDonald's revamped its Happy Meals with its Commitments to Offer Improved Nutrition Choices" initiative, a long-term plan to help customersespecially families and childrenmake nutrition-minded choices when dining out.

The plan includes reducing calories by 20% in its popular Happy Meal and adding a serving of fruit or vegetables. The changes took effect in some markets in September 2011 and is expected to be implemented in all 14,000 McDonald's restaurants nationwide by April 2012.

The new Happy Meal will automatically include both produce (apple slices, a quarter cup or half serving) and a new smaller size French fries (1.1 ounces) along with the choice of a Hamburger, Cheeseburger or Chicken McNuggets, and choice of beverage, including new fat-free chocolate milk and 1% low-fat white milk.

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