Bits and pieces: Happy Meals, colorful cauliflower and other food news from the web, 8.1.11

  • Starting in September, McDonald’s will add a serving of fruit or vegetable and reduce the portion of french fries in Happy Meals. The company is making the changes in response to criticism from health groups and parent organizations about the nutritional value of Happy Meals. When I was a tike, I had a cardboard box full of Happy Meal toys from all the Happy Meals I ate. Yes, I was a chubby kid. (LA Times)
  • A group of scientists say that drinking wine could help prevent sunburn. Like I needed another reason to make a pitcher of sangria. (The Telegraph)
  • One in six people change their order when a fast-food restaurant menu includes calorie count. But folks only reduce their intake by about 44 calories, the equivalent of one McNugget. (MSNBC)
  • A supermarket chain in the United Kingdom is selling cauliflower in colors like purple, yellow and green to get kids to eat more veggies. I don’t care what color you make it — I am a cauliflower hater. Yuck. (Daily Mail)

Bits and pieces: Ronald McDonald, coffee and other food news from the web, 5.23.11

  • Is Ronald McDonald a nice ol’ clown representing a big company, or is he just an example of predatory marketing that encourages kids to eat unhealthy food? Some people thinks it’s time to retire Ronald, but McDonald’s has decided to stand by its man. (NPR)
  • Coffee (or nectar of the gods, as I like to call it) can actually make you healthier. Where’s my cup? (The Atlantic)
  • I’m all for taking risks with fashion, but I’m not sure about a pizza beret. (Best Week Ever)
  • A cat-food brand has created iPad games for cats. Let the cuteness commence. (Gizmodo)
  • Chefs Eric Ripert and Tom Colicchio made a cameo on HBO’s Treme last night. I don’t have the channel, but I hear the show is fantastic. (Eater)

Can government take away my Happy Meal?


As a Star Wars fan, I'm digging this Happy Meal. Photo courtesy of jasonippolito via Flickr.

I spent years collecting the toys from McDonald’s Happy Meals in a cardboard box.

It was no coincidence that I was also a chubby child.

Now, one city has taken action to curb the McDonald’s tradition of including toys in Happy Meals to market fast food to kids.

San Francisco’s board of supervisors gave final approval this week to an ordinance that will ban fast-food restaurants from including toys with children’s meals that do not meet nutritional guidelines, which puts McDonald’s Happy Meals in the crosshairs, according to an article in the San Francisco Chronicle.

From the article:

The ordinance, which would go into effect in December of next year, prohibits toy giveaways in fast-food children’s meals that have more than 640 milligrams of sodium, 600 calories or 35 percent of their calories from fat. The law also would limit saturated fats and trans fats and require fruits or vegetables to be served with each meal with a toy.
Health advocates are thrilled that this ordinance will help fight childhood obesity. Other folks, including San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and McDonald’s franchise owners, object to the board regulating what children eat.
My view? Bravo to the board for calling McDonald’s out for peddling junk to kids. I’ve seen parents (mine included) buckle under tantrums from their kids and buy burgers and fries for the family. But the city needs to lead some efforts to teach parents about healthy eating and ensure that families have access to affordable, healthy food. I work in an area where it’s easier to get a Happy Meal than an orange. Something has got to change on both ends to make this ordinance work.
What do you think? Should a government group be allowed to regulate what a fast-food restaurant can offer kids? Take it to the comments.