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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Well my thoughts are that dicipline starts in the home regarding what the child eats. It is to easy to blame McDonalds or any fast food place for what they put in happy meals. What happened to parenting as adults having the final say on what is eaten?The happy meal should be a treat not what the child demands as a meal. Parents you need to gain control of your house and the children that reside in it.
Maybe after she's done with this lawsuit, she can sue all television networks and radio networks for also putting ideas into her kids' heads.
This woman is an idiot who shouldn't be allowed to have a child. The last time I checked, 99.99% of young children don't have enough cash to buy the meal or the car to get there. In the unlikely event she gets any money, she should spend it on classes on how to be a parent or maybe get her tubes tied.
People should have to pay damages if they lose their lawsuit. Perhaps that would curtail some of these frivolous lawsuits. Take some responsibility and raise your children.
this woman is using children as a crutch for financial gain!!! hey !!! thats immoral.....
What are the damages? She has to say no more than once. Plus, McDonald's is direct marketing to her children? I've got an inexpensive answer for her: limit the tv time for the kids, let them know Mcdonlads is a treat and spend time with them so they won't miss the little toy. Additionally, McDonalds has let me buy the toys without buying a happy meal, just ask.
I am in England and I don't know if it's the same in the US but if you want the toy seperately from the meal you pay about 1.99 so you don't even have to buy the meal! Who forced the food down the child's throat? Oh, yes it was HER. Lazy lawsuit and I hope she loses.
Yes, you can buy just the toy here, too!
This woman is a poor example of a mother. She just wants money. She's probably too lazy to make healthy meals for her children, or spend time with them. I feel sorry for her children.
Can I sue this women for causing news stories like this that make my head hurt? I really think her lawsuit is causing me emotional distress.
I say we counter sue against this women and say that her claims are attempting to deprive our children of their well deserved happiness. I think it is unlawful that a person would FORCE me to not be able to give my child an enjoyable environment for dining. Who is with me.........:)
Totally ridiculous...so I will have less choices as a consumer because she's a bad parent and can't tell her kids no, you know like a parent???
I am SO tired of these people filling up the courts with BS! She is an idiot! If you don't want your kids to eat McDonald's, you say in THIS FAMILY, WE DON'T EAT MCDONALD'S! No, it's McDonald's fault. McDonald's needs to go after her for their attorney fees after the win this case. Children are faced with making the right choices everyday and it's her RESPONSIBILITY to teach her child the values she feels are important. Those are not everyone's values so she has to TEACH them. This woman disguises me! The country is has serious issues when women like this can file a lawsuit.
I guess as a parent it is my responsibility to sue pretty much everyone for getting into my kids' heads and making them want everything because it seems so much easier than saying no.
crazy how a 40 year old woman can be so irresponsible. like its the govt's job to set boundaries and limitations for her kids.
Nobody's holding a gun to her head to buy McDonald's for her children or herself yet she wants someone else to hold a gun to McDonald's head because she's too lazy to be a parent. Excellent.
Typically if I am polite and discrete, and purchase a beverage of some sort, and ask for a happy-meal toy without purchasing the meal, they give it to me. My mother had no problem telling me no when I was a child, and it has helped me to tell myself "no I don't need to eat that" as an adult. The toys are a novelty that you can actually get without the meal, McDonalds doesn't really care as long as it brings you in to buy ANYTHING. They sell apple slices now anyway, give those to your spoiled child you whiny crow.
this is stupid,if she doesnt want mcdonalds "getting in her kids heads without her permission" dont freakin go to mcdonalds. she is the one that made the choice to eat there. get a grip ppl and take responsibility for your own actions. if you dont like what a certain place is doing DONT GO THERE STUPID!
I would like to file a class action lawsuit against this lady for wasting my tax money see her lawsuit in court and wasting the 2 mins of my life I will never get back for reading this stupid story. Since she is unwilling to be a parent I hold her responsible for the actions her childerne will take and probably also be a drain on society. I am now emotionaly distraught from her incompetency as a parent. Oh and please see if we can get possibly get child services involved becuse she is obviously an incompetant mother who can't nor doesnt seem to want to raise her kids.
When will people start learning, especially parents, its no one else fault for your failures or successes in life other then you.
Monet if this ever reaches you. Please take some personal responsibilty and learn to say no to your kids. You are a parent, not thier adolescent playmate who stives to appease them. I mean look at history. Appeasment will get you nothing but another hitler.
Just another example of passing the buck along. "Oh it's not my fault, it's someone else's. And perhaps I can get some money out of it too." That's a great message to send to you kids lady. BTW Star, you hit the nail right on the head, kudos.
I support the idea that the judge sentences McDonalds to pay out money....
a third of it to ensure her stay at the psych ward will have guaranteed funding, a third to make sure the kids relocate to a real home, and a third to make a comedy out of her... maybe that would give some incentive for future retards...
Wow!!! All of you responsible, efficient, competent, disciplinary and doting parents here too busy gloating over yourselves to recognize the real atrocity behind this lawsuit!! Do you really believe this woman filed a lawsuit based on principle? This lawsuit is motivated by PROFIT and GREED!!! This woman is probably making this crap up to play the system!!
I'm going back to work now. All of you soccer moms (who are living off of your cheating spouses paychecks) why don't you step away from your computers for a few moments and go check on your children who are watching their happy meal toys float in the toilet
Before everyone totally dumps on the lady, consider how difficult it was to take on tobacco,
and how our intuition can lead us astray. The NY Times thought Robert Goddard was an idiot when he said rockets would fly in space. Everyone knew that was stupid. Nothing to push against, they said.
Before thoroughly condemning her, get acquainted with the subject.
Google on 'Consuming Kids", and read what parents are up against.
Marvel at the depth of study and research that goes into subverting a parent's will.
The book begins by describing a conference that people (individuals) in the industry paid $10,000 to attend to learn the latest research about such things as the "nag" factor.
It showed that six "nags" is about the limit any parent can resist before they cave. For the industry, it's just a matter of persistence. - and something they can bank on.
Who gives a damn if kids grow into fleshy blobs, unfit for any service commitment?
If my four-year old daughter nags me more than once, let alone six times, she is put in a time-out. This has been quite effective in curbing the nagging issue. The industry heads you are referring to count on parents not being responsible enough to tell their children "No" and mean it. People like the author of this article only prove that this type of marketing works on those who are too feeble-minded to stand firm when they make a parenting decision, and pressing the government to limit the marketing our children are exposed to only ensures that the next generation will lack will power and the powers of self-denial that are necessary to make wise decisions in the future.
We need to be stronger than our young children to make "nag" marketing ineffective, and we need to set a good example for them so they know to stay away from dangerous products. Outlawing certain types of marketing will not help our children in the future.
Before you go defending this mother, understand that I have raised 5 children and am currently raising 3 more. 'No' was the first thing my children learned, after they learned to say mama. I say no with conviction, and I say it in a clear, no nonsense manner.
If I had nagged my parents, I would have picked my teeth up off the floor. My children know they would have my foot surgically removed from their backside for nagging. A child will push every boundary trying to find their limits. It is up to the parents to set those limits.
I refuse to live in a Nanny State. Every generation of my family had someone serve in the military, since this country was founded. They served so we would have the freedom to choose how to raise our families. If a parent doesn't teach a child right from wrong, who will? My children were raised to believe in God and Country, and to be FRUGAL, healthy adults who will live in the real world, not some nanny world where no one keeps score and nobody's feelings ever get hurt.
I raised normal, healthy, CONTRIBUTING, college educated children to adulthood.
I have watched as advertising went from them paying us to wear their logo to some moron paying tons of money to wear some company's logo on their butts. I have watched as people went from being totally responsible for their actions, and the actions of their children, to some morons needing a label to tell them not to use electronics in the shower.
Lawsuits like this should be outlawed. The woman who sued because she spilled coffee in her crotch should have been thrown out. If you go out and order coffee, it should be understood that unless you ordered it ICED, its gonna be HOT. ANY MORON should know these things. But because we put anal retentive, obsessive compulsive people in charge, we now need someone to hold our hands to get across the street, much less across town or cross country. We can't read maps anymore-we have GPS. Duh! If we let stupidity rule our everyday lives, why should we be surprised when it begins to run our country?
Are you seriously comparing this lawsuit to the lawsuit against the tobacco companies? I'm not even sure how to respond to such a ridiculous comparison. As far as I know, there are no addictive substances in the toys that come from a happy meal. I'm also not aware of any life threatening illnesses that anyone can suffer from either playing with the toys or from eating the meals.
This is also nothing like the hot coffee lawsuit (which, I agree, had it's merits).
As best I can tell this is about a woman who has a hard time saying no to her kids. That is job #1 of being a parent. It's called "setting boundaries". I have no idea about her other parenting skills so I won't be like the others who have posted who have said some pretty mean things about someone they've never met. All I can say is that if you want the government to help you say "no" to your kids, you probably have bigger issues. This lawsuit is a slippery slope, and I hope it gets thrown out.
Wow!!! about 15 mins have lapsed and there's only a comment from John E. John, i'm not sure if i 100% agee with you, but at least you know how to think out of the box. Where are all the Stephs, Jenna's, Lisa's and Joyces who posted earlier? Oh you got off your chairs? Got enough Lysol wipes to clean the poop off the toys?
How is winning MONEY going to make this woman's kids stop begging? ALL kids ask for things – over and over and over – it's their job! Our job, as parents, is to teach, set limits and model how to say "no". I feel sorry for the kids of this woman. THEY should sue for emancipation. Free themselves from a greedy woman who is obviously too lazy (and quite possibly, stupid) to parent.
Yeah....sure...why don't we go after the people that put prizes in boxes of cereal too...that is OBVIOUSLY influencing the choices our kids make for their breakfasts.
hey assertive mom of 2, get away from your computer and go change the tird in your kids pants i can smell it from here. Dont count your chickens before they hatch.......your the kind of useless B* your kids will rebel against and grow up to hate
Hey Loz, how many kids have you raised? What's the name of the college they attended. What's their present career/occupation status?
3 kids. One is in college in a dental hygiene program. 2 are in high school (although one of those also takes college courses at the local university as part of an honors program). I'm saddened to hear that you had a negative childhood and that you don't like the way your parents raised you. I also don't like some of the methods my parents used and have chosen not to do those same things when it comes to my own kids.
Hey Loz, you never answered my questions! If the answers to my questions above are "N/A" then you havent raised children and arent a seasoned parent. Go change your kids diapers i can smell you from here
Are you trying to pick a personal fight with someone you have never met on a cnn message board? Really??
Just goes to prove that just because you CAN have children does NOT mean you should have them,
Apparently not everybody believes that the government should stay out of peoples lives, if you don't want your kids tempted by a toy just say no-NOW! i can only imagine that these kids will grow up to not be able to say no to drugs or drinking when they get exposed to it,
I have friends that have NEVER taken their kids to McD's, it's called freedom of choice,
I HATE 98% of the comments on this post. I'm in my forties and I grew up with parents just like you all!! Always pointing the finger at other parents, alway accusing other parents of not caring, being irresponsible, lacking good parenting and discipline, how all the other girls are going to get pregnant by time they're high school age blah blah blah blah. Always obsessed with who the bad parents were and how much better they were. Well guess what????? My sister was one of the first girls to get pregnant is high school and my older brother went to prison for 3 years after causing injuries in a DWI accident. TO ALL YOU HYPOCRITES ASK THE FOLKS, KARMA BITES!!!. unless your children have reached the age of being prudent and productive ADULTS take your "parenting skills" comments and stfu
So the h*ll what? The unresolved issues you have with your parents have no bearing on anyone's family but yours. There are many, many nuances of parenting. Sometimes no matter what you do, the kids will make mistakes. The point everyone here is making is that this woman isn't trying to take even the most basic of disciplinary measures in order to raise her kids. Even a monkey can communicate "no" to its child. And on top of it, she's teaching her kids how to shift accountability and be disingenuous (and possibly greedy). Bad parenting. Period.
My 15 year old wants an iPhone... so I'll be suing Apple. Oh, and my 9 year old wants Legos, and my wife wants diamonds, so I'll be suing Jared.
This made me laugh. Thanks, Tim!
I'm off to sue Mercedes and every pizza restaurant in my state.
Every one with an IQ over 100 needs to watch the movie "Idiocracy", it is not a good movie by any standard but the theme is VERY scary to think about but the older I get and the more I see, read & hear I have to worry about the future of our country, check out the movie and tell me I am wrong,
Wow–what a lazy spineless woman. If she cooked a decent meal for her children maybe they wouldn't be asking for processed foods all the time. The state should be questioning her ability to parent. It sounds like the commercials are influencing HER more than the children who can't physically drive themselves to the local McDonald's. As an educator, I would hate to hear the excuses that she makes for her children at the school!
This woman needs to spend a day in a developing country where people don't have a choice of what to eat–they get a bowl of rice if they are lucky. What a disgrace.
Why do you ask? I just browsed over 700 comments from people who believe a lawsuit was filed to excuse the bad parenting of an individual they never met!!!
she's probably part of the same group that thought Santa being over weight was sending a bad message to kids, and part of the group that wanted to ban him from saying "Ho Ho Ho"... So ridiculous! Worry about the meesages YOU are sending your kids, like sueing for absurd reasons, you should start there!!!!!
jackie how old are your other children? do you have any other children besides a 4 year old? My son is 22, a hard worker and a college graduate.
Wannabes....I can speak because I have RAISED children who are wonderful adults . Why dont you all shut up and go wipe the boogers from underneath the coffee table.
Everyone who is commenting on this story are giving their OPINIONS. Not everyone will have the same opinion, as you have shown here on this blog. Although I am only 18 years old and have no children, I find that your comments are very rude, especially since you do not know any of these people. You have the freedom of speech to share your thoughts on this case, however, you do not have the right to swear or be completely rude and out of line with complete strangers. I know that every parent raise their kids differently and all the power to them. But for you to rip on parents because you were raised and raised your kids differently than them IS NOT OK! You need to get through your mind that EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT and you need to respect them as people, whether you agree or disagree.
Can I sue the makers of doors if my kids run in the house and then run into the door? Just curious. Oh! I also deserve compensation if I leave a soda in the freezer and it explodes. How dare the makers of the freezer make it freeze things!
i used to wipe boogers all over the house while my mother was on the telephone gossiping about how the paper boy had a lousy mouth
i used to jump off of the garage roof (at least 10 ft) into the swimming pool. My mother never saw it since she was too busy on the phone with my aunt bragging about her new car and making fun of the poor people in the neighborhood
So your mother neglected you? Is that the point you're trying to make by posting these bizarre childhood confessions? And why you're jumping to the conclusion that every parent who criticizes another or (OMG!) gossips on a telephone is doing the same thing? Parental neglect is terrible, and I feel for anyone who's a victim of it–but maybe it's time to move on and stop projecting.
"Wow–what a lazy spineless woman. If she cooked a decent meal for her children maybe they wouldn't be asking for processed foods all the time. "
Wow, educator, go back and read the story again. The story is about a FRIVOLOUS LAWSUIT!!!! not about a mother who feeds her kids nothing but mcdonalds. get over yourselves
Where i live.. I don't see very many commercials from McDonalds advertising. Definitely not enough to make my child go crazy and have to have Mickey D's. This woman needs to learn to say No. Kids will be kids and they will try to get away with whatever you allow them to. My son is 3 and he understands the meaning of No. If you have a problem with the way they advertise, then don't give them your business. If you can't say No now, then your setting your child up for failure. Teach them right from wrong so they don't grow up and be some crazed woman that wants to sue McDonalds over their advertising.
You shouldn't stop putting toys in happy meals, but the requirements for being a toy should be changed. Instead of the mindless things like plastic fire-launching robots, they should be things the stimulate childrens' minds. The other day at a Wendy's we recieved a 3D puzzle based off something in the Yogi Bear movie. It had tons of little pieces and some confusing instructions to go along with it. It took me about a half-an-hour to finally put the whole thing together, but it was a lot of fun. Being older, I could do it myself, but for a younger kid it seems like it would be a good chance for a parent to have some good interaction with their child as they work together to finish the puzzle. As far as I'm concerned, that was the best happy meal toy I had ever seen. Chick-fil-a does a similar thing, providing kids with educational games and audio tapes (well, they're CDs now). Sure, the kid might would rather have something to bug his/her sibling with, but children will benefit more from educational activities to go along with their meal.
we want a descent and quality food NOT for just a damn toys
WOW!! Its so easy to blame fast food......Where is the parenting? Can you not say NO to your own kids? She can choose not to pull into a drive-thru. Her kids aren't driving the car.
So, are we as a nation going to sue all fast food restaurants that use toys to market to kids?
i dis agree Mcdonalds is not bad its just a buisness and i think its the parents fault cant u just say no to the children or make them earn a happy meal by good grades my child its mcdonalds not a lot but she makes all 100 because i reward her on every report card and buy her a meal
I agree that parents need to be parents and take responsibility for their children's eating habits. But I also think there is more to this lawsuit than meets the eye. I don't think this organization is intending to win the lawsuit; they are trying to pressure McDonald's into providing healthier options in the Happy Meals. Look at the last paragraph where it talks about suing KFC and other places. They got those companies to at least improve the nutrition of their food!
One third of American children are overweight or obese. Two thirds of adults in this country are overweight or obese. McDonald's certainly isn't the only one to blame–poor eating habits at home and lack of exercise are major contributors, too–but the company is, as the article describes it, a "fast-food giant." If the organization can force McDonald's to change their ways, other fast food companies might follow.
The judge should just say "NO"