A while back I told you about San Francisco’s adoption of a ban on toys in children’s meals which fail to meet certain nutritional requirements. (These measures are commonly referred to as “Happy Meal toy bans,” even though they affect all restaurants, not just McDonald’s.) I also told you about a similar measure that failed to pass in Superior, Wisconsin.
Now New York City will soon be considering its own Happy Meal toy ban. According to today’s New York Times, Queens council member Leroy G. Comrie Jr. is introducing a bill to the City Council today which would
restrict toys to meals that contain fewer than 500 calories and 600 milligrams of sodium, and in which less than 35 percent of the calories come from fat (making exceptions for nuts, seeds, peanut butter or other nut-based butters). In addition, the meal would have to contain a half a cup of fruit or vegetables or one serving of whole-grain products.
The measure is slightly more stringent than the one adopted in San Francisco in that it imposes stricter calorie and sodium limits.
Interestingly, Mayor Bloomberg’s office (which has been very proactive in the health arena, including requiring calorie counts restaurants and proposing a ban on the use of food stamps for soda), has taken no position on the measure. McDonald’s and the New York State Restaurant Association, on the other hand, have been quick to denounce the idea as infringing on parental choice and imposing unneeded regulation on businesses.
These bans always stimulate interesting discussion – let me know how you come out.