December 15th, 2010
02:04 PM ET
Woman sues McDonald's over Happy Meals
A California woman is suing McDonald's claiming the fast-food giant uses toys to market directly to young children. Monet Parham, a Sacramento, California, mother of two small children filed the lawsuit Wednesday in San Francisco along with health, nutrition and food safety advocates Center for Science in the Public Interest . CSPI is seeking court approval to proceed as a class action.
Parham, a 41-year old state employee, says her kids repeatedly ask for Happy Meals, mainly for the toys. "We have to say no to our kids so many times and McDonald's makes that so much harder to do. I object to the fact that McDonald's is getting into my kids' heads without my permission and actually changing what my kids want to eat."
Michael Jacobson, CSPI's executive director accused McDonald's of "one of the most insidious marketing practices–dangling a toy in front of a small child." Jacobson called the practice "unfair, deceptive and illegal' in California and many other states. "The food industry has a responsibility not to intrude into families by using sleazy marketing techniques getting kids to pester their parents."
Jacobson compared the tactics to tobacco companies marketing to kids with things like Joe Camel. "In this instance, McDonald's is worse. They are going straight at little kids. The company is using unfair techniques to persuade the kids to persuade the parents to go to McDonald's. Tobacco companies don't go after 3 year-olds. Neither does Coca Cola or Pepsi."
In 2006, fast food companies spent over $520 million on advertising and toys to market kids meals. More than $350 million of that was for toys alone. Last month, The San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance that requires happy meals and other fast food offerings with toys meet new nutritional standards or be removed from menus. It goes into effect next December.
McDonald's says it is proud of its Happy Meals and will vigorously defend the company's brand, its reputation and its food. "We stand on our 30-year track record of providing a fun experience for kids and families at McDonald's," said Bridget Coffing, a company spokesperson. "We listen to our customers, and parents consistently tell us they approve of our Happy Meals. We are confident that parents understand and appreciate that Happy Meals are a fun treat, with quality, right-sized food choices for their children that can fit into a balanced diet."
This is not the first time CSPI has challenged fast food companies in court. In 2006 the organization went after Kellogg for marketing cereals loaded with sugar to children. In that case CSPI and Kellogg reached a settlement. CSPI also sued Kentucky Fried Chicken for frying its chicken in partially hydrogenated oil, which is high in trans fat. When KFC phased out the oil, CSPI dropped the lawsuit.
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What is this world coming to? Allowing someone to bring a lawsuit against a company because she doesn't want to teach her children there are choices and consequences? Her children will never survive this world if their upbringing doesn't change direction!!!
McDonalds is the reason for our FAT NATION!!!!!!! Stop eating that crap!! say no to your children and dont smoke!
No it is not McDonalds Fault! It is the fault of people who over it this kind of food! If you don’t like it then fine don’t eat it! However many people do like this food and eat it in moderation! You can’t force people to eat certain types of food! I don’t like your people type of food but if that what you like eat it. I leave yours alone you leave mine alone!
That's right! Eat at Burger King, Wendy's, Jack in the Box, Sonic, etc. Because they are all sooooo much healthier.
Did you know McDonalds has a low fat menu? Even a low fat kids menu? Did you know they have a low carb menu? Did you know that every food item McDonalds sells has to be approved by the FDA before they can market and sell it? Did you know that every food item has one of those nutritional information lists? Did you know the reason they stopped advertising with the FryGuys, Hamburgler, and even grimace was becuse parents thought they resembled Sesame Street characters too much and might cause young children to associate the restaraunt with that learning show?
There are options out there people! If you want to get your kids the Happy Meal toy AND a healthy unfried meal, you CAN! You can get Salads, yogurt, fruit, healty wraps with baked chicken, REAL eggs, and all sorts of other healthy foods at McDonalds. It is this womans fault thet she can't figure out how to read a fricken' menu!
actually we need to get rid of health nuts like yourself and let people live their lives the way they want..
Ah come on stop blaming someone else for your problems! YOU ARE THE PARENT! SAY NO!! If you can’t handle it maybe you should not be a parent! I’m so sick of people trying to blame others for their own faults! Take some accountability in your life! You’re teaching your kids wrong by doing this lawsuit! Now I’m not defending McDonalds in this as they are in it to make money. But it still comes down to YOU ARE THE PARENT! Maybe if your type would just stop buying your kids the happy meals McDonalds would stop they way they sell things. Stop trying to get money for something that is mostly YOUR FAULT! Again YOU ARE THE PARENT YOU RUN THINGS, YOU MAKE THE RULES!!!!
im actually surprised no one has mentioned the fact that you can buy the toys without buying the meals? mcdonalds does sell them separately you know...
I have an idea. Since some feel this is okay and that it is hard for parents to keep saying no....just say no to the TV. That will cut down on 80% of the advertising they see
I question why CSPI and this woman are targeting McDonald's. What about Burger King, Wendy's and our neighborhood eateries that do the same? Seems to me they both have an axe to grind with McD's. It's a frivolous suit that will take both time and money away from our courts, and I think they both need to bare all expenses (theirs, McDonald's and the public's).
Looks like CSPI works via donations, and my suggestion is that everyone think twice about the silly ways this organization is spending donated money before giving – there are many, many more worthwhile charities out there.
$#@$#!!!!! I can't believe this. I don't even know were to begin. JUST SAY KNOW. If she can not do that, She is unfit. That's all I've got to say.
Does her dumb butt know that she can buy the toy seperately without buying the food? I mean we as parents have to tell our children no sometimes. I doubt a happy meal once a month will not kill her kids. I would be curious what she serves her kids at home. She is the adult and the parent so she better learn to say no because who will she sue when her daughter wants to go on a date or something? Get a backbone woman and stop with the dumb lawsuits....
I'm so sorry for all the trouble we've caused parents of children with our "Happy Meals." We have taken steps to correct the situation. From now on, we've renamed the offending item. They will now be called "Crappy Meals." Case closed.
See you at breakfast/lunch/dinner!
This is ridiculous! The Department of Social Services should remove this woman's children from her care IMMEDIATELY. She clearly is not a capable parent.
McDonalds should fight this all the way to the Supreme Court. Its time people take responsibility for their own actions and responsibility for the children they CHOSE to have!
Also as another side note, not mentioned in the article above, this is the Third laws suit filed against McDonalds for putting toys in their Happy Meals, and the fifth lawsuit over the healthiness of their food. NONE of the lawsuits filed before have made it into the courts. Their only thread of hope is the "marketing" of the toys to induce children to insist on Happy Meals. And that might work, but only in California where the sue happy, stupid law making, overzealous live.
this woman has her head where the sun doesnt shine, why do they give notice to this ignorance obviously this woman lets her kids tell her what to do
This is a pretty ridiculous lawsuit. Basically, she's blaming McDonald's for her troubles raising kids. What's next, suing Cartoon Network because they target kids with cartoons that rot their brains? Come on, be smarter here folks. You have to realize that if you want to live in this world, well, you're going to have to deal with other people and things in our life. At some point, everyone has to tell their kids "no" to something. That's part of raising your kids. If you don't want to have to deal with those troubles, you shouldn't have had kids in the first place. Stop blaming McDonald's for all your ills and perhaps think about turning off that TV for a second, you know, so they can't see those McDonald's ads... oh but then I guess that would be asking to much considering most parents use the TV as a babysitter.
I agree with the people who say all you need to do is say no to your child. Sometimes you need to be the parent and not their friend. Obviously she has a problem with McDonald's and I say if so, do not go there and give them your business. As for the lawyer, he is a bigger idiot than she.
wow another parent just trying to get a buck of mcdonalds get a life and learn how to say no to your kids, or just dont buy mcdonalds at all..... i hope you go broke suing mcdonald and walk alway with nothing at all... get a life lady for real...... have control over your kids........
If this lady has trouble saying 'No', I bet there's a long line of guys with some "requests".
If this woman has an issue with the healthiness of a happy meal, then she should not be going to McDonalds in the first place. A hamburger in a happy meal is the same as a hamburger without the toy. So, if she is going to sue McDonalds over their menu options, then will she next sue Toys R Us for printing toy catalogs and selling toys? This kind of news is disappointing. I can only hope that a court and judge will view this suit for what it is – frivolous and a waste of our justice system's time and resources.
Perhaps this entire response section should be mailed to the presiding judge and lawyers to demonstrate the people's disgust with frviolous lawsuits. We can demand that they be stopped and put the pressure on the judgeships to do so before they are allowed into court. This is the will of the people, please act accordingly.
You gotta be joking! Stop blaming the McDonald's for your bad parenting!! And is this what tax payer pay the CSPI to do? Anyway, you can always buy the toys by themselves! The toys are so crappy always!!!
OMG I just want to slap these oppurtunists. Sue McDonalds over a Happy Meal?, well her BS lawsuit has gotten me upset, made me stressed and has put my health at risk.Im gonna sue her. Stupid people. sue over nothing and everything. I hate people so much lately.
If this works, I'm gonna sue my husband for dangling a toy in front of me enticingly and forcing me to say No over and over again.
If she doesn't want to hear them whining then she shouldn't let them watch so much t.v. My kids never know what toy is currently at McDonald's or any other restaurant that serves "kids meals" because I don't let them watch so much t.v. that they see that many commercials. This lawsuit is a COMPLETE waste of money!!!!
There should be an organization that countersues these people and groups that place these assinine lawsuits. I'd donate to that group! What a waste of our court system. if they don't like the happy meals, then just campaign not to eat at Mcdonald's. That will change McDonald's marketing tactics. The dissatisfaction of one person causes the rest of us to suffer from no happy meals.
I'm going to sue Coach because every time I walk by the Coach store my wife wants a Coach bag and I'm tired of having to say no.
First off, this woman is a terrible mother and idiot. Manage your own family yourself!
Secondly, if this lawsuit is a win, the presiding judge should be put in jail.
I feel bad for her kids if she succeeds. If she says they whine about wanting a Happy Meal now, how upset are they going to be when they find out that not only can they never get one again but it's because mommy killed it 🙁
The responses calling this woman an unfit parent is amazing. Apparently McDonalds commercilas have brainwashed parents as well. I think she is an awesome parent because she is concerned about the brainwashing of her children's delicate minds. Mcdonalds food is bad food and yes she can say no , of course. but why should she in the first place. When the tobacco companies were doin gthe same thing, did you call the same parents unfit, crazy, to stupid for trying to stop the tobacco companies. This shows how much this nation has been "dumb down" to the point that you attack a woman for simply wanting to protect her kids regardless of how she does it.
Hmmm Sound like your one of them people that blames someone else for their problems. Your type is what is wrong with this country! When I was a kid the parent made the rules! That’s not so now a days you people let the kids run everything! And I work in a school system so I know first hand that there is MANY unfit parents like this lady who let the kids run their life! Guess the truth hurts hey Jeffery
Ha ha ha ha ha! I don't watch TV, I don't read avtertisements, I listen to old school music and I'm not brainwashed by McDonalds. As a parent of 5 I can honestly say I have no problem telling my kids no every five seconds. She IS an unfit parent because she is seeking to place the blame and frustrations of BAD parenting on a fast food restaraunt. You sir are the one who has been brainwashed by all the Anti-fast food hype out there. I take my kids to McDonalds all the time. They are not unhealthy, they are not obese, and they are well disciplined that when I say no, I mean it. The two youngest get happy meals BTW. They get a happy meal with a low fat burger, whole grain bun, apple slices and milk. What is that I hear? A healthy happy meal!?! for the same exact price as an unhealthy one!?! AND they still get the toy!?!
Grow up and learn to read, and learn to take responsibility for your own actions and parenting techniques.
I'm with you Jeffery. No one seems to realize how insidious targeted marketing has become. Everyone wants to scream at eachother that were all "idiots", "need to take responsibility for ourselves" and my favorite "I should be able to treat my kids to a happy meal whenever I chose". Blah, blah, blah. This is not about McDonald's people! This is about slick marketing geared towards making our lives hellish. When companies market to young children they are counting on the 'herd' mentality. They need the average Joe and Jane to make their fortunes and to defend them when they are obviously wrong and this board just proves that the majority rules!
another government drone i see... i cant believe how many of you are actually defending this womans actions. what the hell happened to saying "no"? are you so lazy you cant open your mouth? if youre going to attack mcdonalds for "advertising to children" then you must go after chuck e. cheese, toy's r us and wal-mart. you live in a capitalist society and advertising is one of the biggest markets for it. get over it, it aint going anywhere. instead of being a schmuck raise your kids responsibly. its your job to teach your kids how not to fall into that trap, not mcdonalds. what message are you sending your kids now by suing mcdonalds because you were too lazy to come home, say "no" and make a home-cooked meal? pathetic.
I suddenly feel like fries.
This is a ridiculous lawsuit. What next, sue the diamond sellers because they make commercials that make women want super expensive luxuries that people can't afford? The woman is doing a bad job of parenting if she can't control what her children want to eat. If it is the toy the kids want than for a buck you can get the toy without the meal so I don't know what the problem is. A buck for a toy is very inexpensive and if it keeps a young child busy using their imagination instead of them playing video games, it is a great buy!
If some idiot Judge in California lets this pass then I have half dozen more law suits that should be filed:
1. Sue Disney for all those damn cartoons that FORCE me to buy their merchandise for my kids.
2. Sue Britney Spears because she FORCES me to buy her clothing line from Target for my kids.
3. Sue Bravo TV for Top Chef. I see them make all those amazing foods, as do my kids and well, we just HAVE to buy the cookbooks.
4. Sue J.K. Rowling for writing a good series of book that I am FORCED to buy for my children. How dare she.
5. Sue Angelina Jolie for having an amazing body because she FORCES me to pay for the gym membership my wife insists upon so that she can try have a similar body.
6. Sue Las Vegas. Because all those shiny lights and dingily sounds in the casino just FORCE me to spend my money.
GIVE ME A DAMN BREAK!!!!!
She should be fined for making such a lawsuit and waisting the courts time and money.
Hey Lady!!!!! You can buy the toys separately from the Happy Meal... get the kids a side salad, carton of milk and a toy... Ridiculous... I agree with DJMIKEDOG... yeah, my kids want a lot of things including Disney, maybe we should start a class action lawsuit to make everything more afforable for everyone's kids... Screw positive reinforcement, we are raising brats because we're not allowed to disappoint our kids! My kids hear no all of the time and guess what? They are doing okay.
why don't you sue ToysRUS, BurgerKing,Walmart,Target,ChickAFilet,etc..?
I have two young kids and I have 100% control over what they eat and what not to eat. Saying no is not enough. Kids need to know why you are saying No. It is important that you explain to them what it means to be healthy, and you might need to change the way you eat at home as well.
Looks like they found a winner to join their crusade! Lady get a life and curb what your kids eat. You brought them into McDonalds you should watch what they eat you can buy the toy seperate from the meal!
This subject has already been hotly debated in SFGate, as the supervisors agreed to ban Happy Meal toys. I recommend reviewers read that extensive dialog. The problem is that multi-national marketing groups have millions to spend with the only object being to make you buy more. If I had to choose between heavy persuasion to a parent, a teen, and a pre-teen, I'd choose the pre-teen, then the teen, then the adult, if all else failed. Kids are not saavy to adult manipulation, it's most cost effective to target them. That wouldn't make so much difference perhaps, but even fast food wrappers are believed to be toxic: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101108140917.htm
They forgot to mention, She is a 41 year old "terrible mother" who is lazy and desperate for money. Seriously this country is just getting fatter and lazier day by day! People sue for the most outrageous things anymore. People need to look at how they were raised and how their parents were raised and quit treating your kids like they are royalty! No wonder we have so many Paris Hilton's, Lindsay Lohan's, and now Miley Cyrus's running around making complete asses out of themselves!!! They are spoiled little rich kids who were never told no for anything!!!
Lady, if you don't like it, don't buy it; simple as that. I understand that McDonalds markets these things to kids - young kids - dont' you have any control over your own kids and their chocies? If not, the problem is yours, not McDonalds. Kids that small aren't driving themselves to McDonalds and neither should you if you have objections to the nutritional value of their food. To say that no one else should have that choice however is selfish, ridiculous and violates every tenet of freedom that we have in this country. Go away, lady.
Really? Kids meals are for kids? wow? and they have toys..... Its your fault for buying them one in the first place and if you have a problem saying no to your kids then its you who need a lawsuit filed against. Get a grip Cali-Lady.
Wow! What a suprise, she lives in San Francisco California....maybe she knows Nancy....
What an idiot woman to blame others because she can't control her children. Using her "reasoning," we might as well ban all toys and toy ads, all candy, all sweets and anything else a child might possibly nag her to buy.
Seriously?!? Who's the child and who's the adult here? Which one is in charge in this family? A parent who can't say "no" to her children, or who doesn't have the power to make sure her own kids eat properly?
What is wrong with people? Suing over a Happy Meal? OMG!!!! This woman is a complete idiot! She should be shunned by society until she puts a stop to this ridiculous lawsuit, and starts parenting her kids instead of expecting the government to do it for her.
This is NUTS!!!!!!, I really hope that they make an example out of this, this is ridiculous!!, when are these crazy lausits going to stop? In Miami there is a website that says, http://WWW.WHOCANISUE.COM, come on people!!!!!, We need to start taking responsibilty. This great country was not based on that!!!, we are becoming so lazy taht we blame everything on TV and Goverment!!, start being a parent damit!!!
i find this woman's behavior extremely irresponsible. Assuming that this previous comment is true:
This woman is not acting out of sheer stupidity...we've read that Monet Parham (or should we call her Monet Parham-Lee?) is a state employee. This is true. Perhaps it should be added that she works for the California Department of Public Health, specifically the "Cancer Prevention and Nutrition Section" of the California Department of Public Health. It is her job to get kids to eat healthier. Therefore, it is professionally in her best interest to file this suit. She is throwing up a smokescreen by using her daughter as an example...but this really has nothing to do with her being too weak/stupid/bad of a parent to say no."
Any parent who will use their child for the purpose of promoting the agenda of their employment is the dreck of the earth. I would not like to be in her shoes if her child at a latter point in life has come to the conclusion that her mother used her as an object of a lawsuit in order to have a means for a covert action in her position as an government employee. She is by far the greater and more evil predator of children than McDonalds. They are selling a product to children using a well thought out advertising technic. She is using her own child to attack a firm using a well thought out plan of activism. Shame on her! Although it is true that McDonalds aims much of its business at children and therefore its advertising, it has also proven itself as a protector and promotor of childrens' well being. McDonald Houses anyone? IF you really have such a difficult time controlling your child Ms. Parham, get parental counseling. If you do not, please stop abusing your own child.
McDonald is endangering the health of generations of Americans. Next time if you run into a doctor of any specialty, ask if he or she goes to McDonald, I assure you the answer will be no. Health is the most important asset for any human being. For all the adults out there, please say no to McDonald unless it is for your survival.
I don't like happy meal with toys because it is cultivating the blind loyalty to McDonald starting at young age when the kids don't know they will develop coronary artery disease, stroke, obesity, peripheral vascular disease along this line of life style.
As a symbol of American culture, McDonald needs to take social responsibility in establishing healthy habit in the generations to come.
Mc Donalds is not endangering anyone. The morons who eat too much junk are endangering themselves and their children.
Or how about this...DON'T GO TO MCDONALDS!
Really? Get real lady. How about you buy them the happy meal, chicken nuggets, apple slices and milk. That's hardly unhealthy.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/10/04/mechanically-separated-meat-chicken-mcnugget-photo_n_749893.html Get the facts.
What did I miss?? What does McDonald's have to do with you raising your children. What does she mean "McDonald's getting in her kids' head without her permission"?? Is she a nutcase!? We see who's in authority in this situation. Certainly not the parents!!!
Ugh you guys are missing the point. This isn't a money grab. They are trying to get McDonald's to stop marketing directly to children. It's annoying. I have no prob saying no to my children but their is something wrong with marketing unhealthy food to children. It's like when they have those cute flavored alcohol drinks that some people "claim" are marketed to teens. If true, that's wrong and so it marketing little heartattacks to kids.
If you're going to go there then you should sue candy companies and a ton of others that market to children with objects and/or food that isn't good for them. It's her/your job as a parent to control what your kids get and what they don't. End of story.
Then I guess you should sue Chef Boyradee. Have you taken at look at their nutrition label. MORON
Has this woman had the retard check?
Absolutely crazy. The system should NEVER allow lawsuits like this. The Woman is wrong – it IS her responsibility to deal with and raise her children and yes that means saying NO – deal with it. McDonalds is a business and they have a right to market. If you do not like it – do not go there – simple. Stop blaming the world for every part of your life and take responsibility yourself.