June 23, 2010; Source: New York Daily News | McDonald’s is anything but happy about a lawsuit being threatened by the nonprofit nutrition watchdog, The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). The group says it will sue the fast food giant if, according to the New York Daily News, “it doesn’t stop offering toys to entice children to buy Happy Meals.”
The nutrition watchdog called McDonald’s practices unfair and deceptive marketing. In a press release from CSPI, Stephen Gardner, litigation director, called the Happy Meals, “a creepy and predatory practice that warrants an injunction.” He also compared McDonald’s to the “stranger in the playground handing out candy to children.” CSPI argues that the way McDonald’s promotes its Happy Meals violate consumer protection laws in four states and the District of Columbia. The group also argues that fast food consumption, and the bad eating habits it creates, puts children at risk of developing obesity and diabetes.
The Daily News reports that McDonald’s fired back, saying its “U.S. advertising is geared toward low-calorie Happy Meals.” A prepared statement from the company added that McDonald’s “couldn’t disagree more with the misrepresentation of our food and marketing practices.” The statement went on to say that the company has “added more choice and variety than ever before, a fact that has been widely reported and recognized.” McDonald’s has 30 days to comply with CPSI’s request or face a lawsuit. Between now and then, both sides will have lots to chew on.—Bruce Trachtenberg