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San Francisco’s Food Justice

By HERWriter
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On Tuesday, San Francisco became the first major U.S. city to pass a law requiring restaurant kids' meals to meet certain nutritional standards before they can be sold with toys. For example, the new law forces fast-food chains like McDonald's to make their children's meals healthier or stop selling them with toys.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, if the ordinance passes its final vote next week, it will go into effect in December 2011. Beginning in 2011, restaurants will only be able to give toys away with kids' meals if the meal contains less than 600 calories, has less than 640 milligrams of sodium and less than 35 percent of the calories are derived from fat (less than 10 percent from saturated fat), except for fat contained in nuts, seeds, eggs or low-fat cheese.

In beverages, less than 35 percent of the total calories can come from fat, and less than 10 percent from added sweeteners. In addition, the meals must contain a half-cup or more of fruit and three-quarters of a cup or more of vegetables. A breakfast meal must contain at least a half-cup of fruit or vegetables.

Backers of the ordinance say it aims to promote healthy eating habits while combating childhood obesity. Also, activists who support the measure said they hope efforts like this would curb childhood obesity, perhaps starting a trend that would spread to other cities, states and the country.

"It's not a ban; it's an incentive. We're part of a movement that is moving forward an agenda of food justice," said Supervisor Eric Mar, who sponsored the measure. "Our children are sick. Rates of obesity in San Francisco are disturbingly high, especially among children of color," added Mar.

"From San Francisco to New York City, the epidemic of childhood obesity in this country is making our kids sick, particularly kids from low income neighborhoods, at an alarming rate. It's a survival issue and a day-to-day issue," stated Mar.

Opponents of the law include the National Restaurant Association and McDonald's. "We are extremely disappointed. It's not what our customers want, nor is it something they asked for," said McDonald's spokeswoman Danya Proud. Since 1979, McDonald’s has used it Happy Meal to pioneer the use of free toys to market directly to children.

"This is a challenge to the restaurant industry to think about children's health first and join the wide range of local restaurants that have already made this commitment," Mar said.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 15 percent of American children are overweight or obese. In some states, the childhood obesity rate is over 30 percent.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest this summer threatened to sue McDonald's if it did not stop using Happy Meal toys to lure children into its restaurants.

In 2006, the latest year for which data is available, fast-food companies led by McDonald's spent more than $520 million on advertising and toys to promote meals for children, according to a U.S. Federal Trade Commission report. When the efforts of other food and beverage companies were included, promotional spending aimed at children topped $1.6 billion.

Scott Rodrick, an owner and operator of 10 McDonald's restaurants in the city, said, "There will be sales loss, there may be jobs impacted, and I know the city of San Francisco will lose tax income to people wanting a McDonald's experience without government intervention."

According to Rodrick anyone could circumvent the law easily. Someone doesn't have to travel very far — a mile outside San Francisco — to get the traditional McDonald's Happy Meals experience.

Reuters, Yahoo News, Associated Press,

Add a Comment9 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

And remeber kids, Nutrition is not a private matter!

November 22, 2010 - 4:01pm
EmpowHER Guest

Hey, kids can still be fed all the trashy meals that parents will to buy for them. The child just doesn't get to have a reward toy incentive to eat so unhealthily. The more controversy on this the better...because, whether it passes or not, ultimately more parents become aware of the manipulation and their children win.

November 6, 2010 - 1:30pm
EmpowHER Guest

This has got to be the most asinine thing I've ever read or heard of. What business is it of anyone's what they or their kids eat? Mind your own damn business! Only in San Francisco.

Hopefully, one day the big one will hit California and San Francisco will slide off into the ocean so we can quit hearing stupidity like this.

November 5, 2010 - 11:59am
EmpowHER Guest

will not all that driving to the outside of the city create more "environmental damage"?

I guess they ban DRIVING to buy a happy meal+toy too.

November 5, 2010 - 10:59am
EmpowHER Guest

This is just the beginning of an ongoing trend. A trend that will eventually lead this country to totalitarian control. Resist, unlearn, defy! This is why I tell people....never, never, never allow the government any kind of power over individual choice. Once you encourage the government to "keep the people safe," for their own good mind you, you have given them the power to run your life. Start fighting back now against behavior control. I'll be fat if I wanna f'n be fat, who is the government to tell me otherwise??? Furthermore, these motherf'rs wont stop until they have learned some respect for those they are supposed to represent. It's obvious the legislators in SF think that you and I are the unwashed masses and they, the ruling elite, know how to run our lives better than we do. "Any society that would give up a little freedom for a little security, will deserves neither and will lose both." Benjamin Franklin. Wake up America, revolution is calling.

November 5, 2010 - 8:02am
EmpowHER Guest

People always want to point a finger at others, which is what Eric Mar is doing. The kids are fat because their parents are fat. The parents are fat because they eat too much. They apparently don't care if their kids are fat, so they keep taking them to McDonald's and other fast-food places. Why blame the restaurants? Put the blame where it should be - the parents.

November 5, 2010 - 12:07am
EmpowHER Guest

This is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard in my life. Show the evidence that the children of San Francisco are fat specifically because of happy meals. You have none. Even if you did have evidence, you have no right to tell a business how to do business. McDonald's and other restaurants should pull out of SF, taking their jobs with them.

November 4, 2010 - 8:38pm
EmpowHER Guest

Food justice? Sounds like food fascism.

November 4, 2010 - 4:49pm
EmpowHER Guest

unreal - leave us alone

November 4, 2010 - 4:46pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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