Hearing set on San Francisco restaurant toy ban


The proposal would make it illegal for kids meals to come with toys if the meals exceed limits on calories, fat, sugar and salt. It would also require meals that do come with toys to include a half-cup of fruit and three-quarters of a cup of vegetables.

The proposal would apply to all restaurants but appears aimed specifically at fast-food establishments such as McDonald's that include toys in kids meals.

Supervisor Eric Mar, who proposed the ban, said the toys draw children to the unhealthy meals, which in turn can contribute to childhood obesity.

"As a parent, it's not just parental choice that decides what meals to serve your children," Mar told the San Francisco Chronicle. "There's the heavy marketing by an industry that connects food with a toy, and that can be a powerful influence."

Restaurant industry officials say the proposal is an example of government regulation going too far.

"We believe strongly that it is the right of parents to decide what children eat," said Karen Wells, vice president of nutrition and menu strategy for McDonald's USA.

Wells said McDonald's already allows children to get apples with their Happy Meals instead of french fries and milk instead of soda. Mar said he is open to suggestions from the restaurant industry, which has been meeting with city officials about the proposal behind closed doors.

Among the amendments he is considering is reducing the amount of vegetables that must be included with the meals.

But Daniel Conway, a spokesman for the California Restaurant Association, said the amendments are not enough. He said the association is looking into a possible legal challenge if the measure is approved.

San Francisco would not be the first local government to approve such a ban. Santa Clara County approved a similar measure earlier this year for unincorporated parts of the county. That law affects only four businesses. San Francisco's ordinance would be more far reaching, which has industry officials concerned.

"It's the potential domino effect," Conroy said. "What happens in San Francisco is a concern to the industry."

The hearing by the Board of Supervisors Land Use Committee is set for 1 p.m. Monday at City Hall.

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