Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Toys banned in some California fast food restaurants
(CNN) -- A California county on Tuesday became the first in the nation to ban toys from fast food kids' meals high in calories, fat, salt and sugar.
Santa Clara County supervisors voted 3-2 to ban the plastic goodies as promotions in meals with more than 485 calories.
County supervisor Ken Yeager said Tuesday that the ordinance "prevents restaurants from preying on children's love of toys to peddle high-calorie, high-fat, high-sodium kids' meals," and would help fight childhood obesity.
"This ordinance breaks the link between unhealthy food and prizes," Yeager said. "Under this ordinance, restaurants are still permitted to give out toys. This ordinance merely imposes very specific, common-sense nutrition standards for children's meals that are linked to these incentives."
The ordinance will ban restaurants from giving away toys with meals that have more than 485 calories, more than 600 milligrams of sodium, more than 35 percent of total calories from fat or more than 10 percent of calories from added sugar. It would also limit toy giveaways on single food items with more than 200 calories or more than 480 milligrams of sodium.
But the decision, which affects about a dozen fast food restaurants in unincorporated areas of Silicon Valley, has angered the California Restaurant Association, which fought the proposal with ads in local newspapers. One asks "Who Made Politicians the Toy Police?" and shows a child in handcuffs in front of a cop.
KGO: County bans kids' meal toys
The group commissioned a poll of local residents that found 80 percent didn't think the toy issue was an important one.
"From our perspective, we were echoing what our customers had to say. Obviously we felt that this proposal was excessive and I think purposely provocative," said Daniel Conway, the association's director of public affairs.
Conway said the association was disappointed local officials didn't come to them before creating the ordinance.
"We try to proactively engage with policy makers at the local level, the state level and the federal level," Conway said. "At the national level, our industry just played a critical role in passing a national menu labeling standard, so that now customers in many restaurants will be able to have in front of them the exact nutritional content of the various menu items."
Yeager said at a press conference Tuesday that he hopes the ordinance will spark other counties and states to pass similar legislation.
Restaurants will have a 90-day grace period beginning May 11 before the ordinance goes into effect.