McDonald's toys that come free with its 'Happy Meals' bring smiles to children, but not all are happy, as an American NGO has threatened to sue the fast-food chain dubbing the offer a deceptive marketing practice.
The US-based non-profit group Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has said using toys to lure small children into McDonald's is an unfair and deceptive marketing and is illegal under various state consumer protection laws.
"McDonald's use of toys undercuts parental authority and exploits young children's developmental immaturity—-all this to induce children to prefer foods that may harm their health," CSPI litigation director Stephen Gardner said in a statement on Tuesday. "It's a creepy and predatory practice that warrants an injunction," he added.
Also, the CSPI on Tuesday served a notice to McDonald's indicating its intent to sue.
McDonald's Happy Meals is very popular in many countries, especially with children who are mainly attracted by the free toys. A Happy Meal of a cheeseburger, French fries, and Sprite has half-a-day’s calories and saturated fat (640gm and 7 gm, respectively), about 940 mg sodium, and about two days' worth of sugar (35 gm), the statement noted.
"Getting children accustomed to eating burgers, fries, and soda puts them at greater risk of developing obesity, diabetes, or other diet-related diseases over the course of their lifetimes," CSPI said.
According to the consumer advocacy group, McDonald's is currently offering children toys related to Dreamworks' latest Shrek movie. The CSPI executive director Michael F Jacobson said regardless of the nutritional quality of what's being sold, the practice of tempting kids with toys is inherently deceptive. The group pointed out that its move to sue is unrelated to McDonald's recent recall of Shrek drinking glasses that were contaminated with cadmium.