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McDonald's finds a way around San Francisco's 'Happy Meal ban'

AP file

The San Francisco law to ban including toys with children's meals is targeted at McDonald's Happy Meals.

San Francisco's so-called "Happy Meal ban" goes into effect Thursday, but McDonald's has already found a way around it.
The ordinance prohibits fast-food restaurants from including free toys with children's meals that don't comply with nutritional standards. McDonald's answer? It will charge 10 cents for the toy. The proceeds will be donated to Ronald McDonald House, the company's charity for children with cancer.

Samantha Graff, a senior staff attorney with Public Health Law & Policy, which drew up the law that was eventually adopted by San Francisco, told SF Weekly — which first reported the novel strategy — that McDonald's response "allows them to continue marketing this unhealthful food to children in the midst of an obesity crisis."

Eric Mar, the member of the Board of Supervisors who led adoption of the law, called the 10-cent charge a "marketing ploy," but he told The Associated Press that he didn't plan to seek any changes to address the tactic.

Ashlee Yingling, a spokeswoman for McDonald's, said all of the company's U.S. stores would offer Happy Meals with apples and smaller servings of french fries by March.