Last November, Inhabitat reported that San Francisco banned toys in Happy Meals that contain excessive levels of fat, sodium, and sugar, and now it looks like New York City might do the same. Today, Councilman Leroy G. Comrie, Jr. introduced a bill to city council that calls for banning toys from Happy Meals unless they become healthier. Comrie believes the new rules would help to promote healthier food options for children whose parents are on-the-go.
The legislation proposes to limit toys to Happy Meals that contain less than 600mg of sodium and 500 calories, with less than 35 percent of the calories coming from fat. Exceptions would allow for nuts, seeds, and peanut butter, which are high in fat but also great sources of protein and antioxidants. Happy Meals with toys would also have to include a fruit and/or vegetable or a serving of whole grain. For those restaurants that violate the law, penalties would range from $200 to $2,500. Comrie’s proposal is stricter than San Francisco’s, which limited calories to 600 and sodium to 640mg.
Comrie notes that he, too, is a busy parent and is guilty of giving his children Happy Meals. New York City already requires fast food restaurants to display fat and calorie content on menus next to prices, and it was the first city in the nation to require food standards for schools. Comrie’s proposal comes just days after the Department of Health banned high fat foods for its employees.
The proposal immediately drew opposition from people who believe that it won’t help childhood obesity and that the decision about what to feed children should be left up to the parents. But it’s necessary to note that Comrie’s bill is not a ban on Happy Meals or other fast food kids’ meals, but rather a means of alluring children to healthier foods and helping parents keep their children healthy during busy days and a tough economy.