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Toys with McDonald's Happy Meals will cost a dime in San Francisco

November 30, 2011 |  9:28 am

Happymeal

San Francisco McDonald’s locations will stop giving away free toys with Happy Meals and Mighty Kids Meals as a new law aimed at child obesity takes effect Thursday.

Instead, the massive fast food chain plans to sell the toys separately for 10 cents with a purchase of the children’s combos in its 19 stores in the Bay Area city. The funds, the company said, would go toward a project through its Ronald McDonald House charity.

It’s McDonald’s way of reluctantly complying with a new ordinance that forbids restaurants from offering toys gratis with a kid’s meal unless the servings have less than 600 calories, a drink option that isn’t too sugary or fatty and also includes a helping of fruits and vegetables.

The Oak Brook, Ill.-based chain began offering apple slices along with downsized servings of French fries in all its Happy Meals this summer. The company is also introducing low-fat milk, fat-free chocolate milk and apple juice.

Around the same time, San Diego-based Jack in the Box Inc. pulled toys out of its children’s meals entirely and began including apples with caramel.

After the San Francisco measure was passed last year, the Los Angeles City Council voted to ban new fast food restaurants within a half-mile of similar chains in South Los Angeles, an area that suffers from high rates of obesity and diabetes.

In the spring, the New York City Council began considering a measure that would ban toys from children’s meals that fail to meet strict nutritional standards.

Some activists scoffed at McDonald’s toy-selling tactic Wednesday.

“As McDonald’s long has, it is again using a charity that helps children get well to defend a practice that contributes to a range of diet-related conditions like diabetes,” said the Corporate Accountability International group in an email.

RELATED:

McDonald's to make Happy Meals more healthful

Jack in the Box stops including toys in kids' meals

Fast-food industry is quietly defeating Happy Meal bans

-- Tiffany Hsu

Photo: A Happy Meal at McDonald's in San Francisco last year. Credit: David Paul Morris / Getty Images

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