Parent sues McDonald’s | Happy Meal toys make it hard to say no

Happy Meal

McDonald's is being sued for offering toys in Happy Meals. Image: Flickr / jasonippolito / CC-BY

In a lawsuit filed on Wednesday, California mother Monet Parham is suing McDonald’s. With support from the Center for Science in the Public Interest, this lawsuit alleges that McDonalds unfairly markets to children. The lawsuit, which may become a class-action, pits parental responsibility against government regulation.

Monet Parham’s lawsuit against McDonald’s

In San Fransisco, Monet Parham has filed a lawsuit against McDonald’s corporation. The lawsuit alleges that McDonald’s “unfairly and deceptively” markets Happy Meals to kids by offering toys. In a statement about her lawsuit, Parham said:

“We have to say no to our kids so many times, and McDonald’s makes that so much harder to do. I object to the fact that McDonald’s is getting into my kids’ heads without my permission and actually changing what my kids want to eat.”

The goal of the Happy Meal lawsuit

The Happy Meal lawsuit is the second major volley against McDonald’s Happy Meals in San Fransisco. In December 2011, San Fransisco will ban all children’s meals with toys unless they meet certain nutritional standards. In filing the Happy Meal lawsuit against McDonald’s, the CSPI and associated health groups hope to see a change in the marketing or nutrition of Happy Meals. They compare the marketing of Happy Meals with toys to the marketing of cigarettes to children with cartoon characters.

A lawsuit instead of saying no

This McDonald’s Happy Meal lawsuit has been filed because Parham and health groups believe McDonald’s is doing something wrong in its marketing. While these toys and meals are definitely marketed to kids, it is leaving many wondering where the line between nanny state and parental responsibility are. If a government becomes responsible for saying no to children when parents don’t, should that same government become the parents in every situation? It is a very tough balancing act — and one that directly pits freedom to choose and parent as one would like against the potential “better good.” What do you think?


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