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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The problem is capitalism. It is the downfall of American society.
Yet another example of why some people shouldn't be parents. Send the kids off to military school and be done with it. At least they will learn to understand the word NO and won't grow up to be little fat consumers of fast food...
Maybe a cup of Mcdonalds coffee will help her see a bigger lawsuit!!
Who is in control? The parents or the children?? Say "NO" to your kids and be done with it. Make McDonald's a treat, not going everyday for lunch or dinner!
There should be a national screening test to see if individuals are capable of parenting a child. This woman is looking to the government to tell her children "No." She is unqualified to be a parent so it must be someone else who is at fault. And by the way ~ she must be paid lots of money for her intrinsic stupidity.
Didnt she take them into McDonalds to eat in the first place? Whats healthy in there anyway the salad maybe? she was just going to get them nuggets or a burger and frys anyway. I dont get it your at McDonalds lady hello all the food is bad for you!!! So whats the toy got to do with it??
I am sure this has been said here 100 times over, but, I am so tired of parents believing that someone else should be accountable for their children's actions / behaviors. To you parents out there, you had your children and most of you take care of them pretty well. Ms Parham, not so much. You believe that toys in happy meals are influencing your children> DO you allow them to watch television, and more specifically, commercials? Have they ever asked if you would take them to Disney because they saw it on TV? Have you ever bought them something because they saw it while watching cartoons (I assume, Ms Parham, that your television is also your part-time babysitter). Take some accountability and raise your own kids. Perhaps I should file a class action lawsuit against Ms Parham and CSPI for this lunatic attempt at taking court resources away from real issues.
"The food industry has a responsibility not to intrude into families by using sleazy marketing techniques getting kids to pester their parents."
They better get the Flintstones off those cereal boxes too, they are brightly COLORED!!
If this goes to court I hope McDonald's brings in all the sane normal healthy adults who went to mcdonald's as children.
I grant that parent's need to be the final word on what their kids eat. My kids may not mirror the recommended nutritional guidelines perfectly, they get plenty of treats, but they are trim and healthy and get plenty of outside play time. We do eat at places like McDonalds about once every two or three months. Now, to play devil's advocate for a moment, our society is fast becoming obese in record levels, starting with our children, and we really need to ask ourselves why. I suspect that there are several factors: More jobs behind desks, less focus on P.E. and recess in schools, video games and TVs in every home, and packaged junk foods. Kids are suddenly being marketed to at levels that boggle the mind. Now, while I object to the idea of people needing Big Brother to tell them what to eat, I also object to seeing what we are turning into. I also object to anyone pushing an unhealthy product directly to children, who are not experienced enough to process that misleading marketing message appropriately. Yes, adults need to stand between the big corporations and their children, but we also need to put SOME limits on what the mega-corporations can get away with as well. If any other product, proven to have an equally detrimental effect on the human body, was marketed at kids we'd freak out. Put a slightly harmful chemical into some jewelry or toys sold to kids and see how fast that company is demonized for selling poison to children. Sell them actual FOOD that is harmful and it's the parent's responsibility. I just think there needs to be moderation on both sides. Unfortunately, huge money making company's have no soul. They will take whatever they can and stop for nothing, unless forced to by something like a class action suit, or law limiting their behavior.
I know I am late on commenting on this article, but I just had to after reading it. It is crazy to think that a company whose masscott is a CLOWN and one of the most reconized faces on the planet is marketing to kids??? WHAT ?????? (HUGE SARCAISM) As with I believe ALL of you (didn't see anyone defend this crazy lady expect MArty who is cleary NUTS...) this is a joke. If her case is even heard (not that there is anyway she would win, just a publicity stunt to keep the San Francisco issue in the news, but if so , just heard by the court I will be suing Disney for making the happiest place on earth forcing me to take my vactions there becuase anywhere else my kids won't be happy on their vaction also for marketing movies to my kids so I am FORCED to take them to see it and buy the toys pertaining to it. And NEXT on my list will be CREST that's right I will sue the makers of Crest toothpaste for maketing their glitterly toothpaste towards my kids, making my kids want to brush their teeth again FORCING me to purchase their product, I will take intruck loads of money from those easy to win cases (becuase everyone would agree with me that those companies deciving practices takes place of course....)
This lady needs to take control of her "CHILDREN OF CORN" kids who clearly hold the power to control minds, and move to I don't know anywhere else but the USA. See here in the U.S. we have the power, right and ability to so NO. you MORN Hey Lady STAY home make you kids a home cooked P.C. Meal and stay out of my way on the freeway. When you lose this case you should be FORCED (As part of bringing up this frivolous law suit) YES YOU SHOULD BE FORCED to take your kids to TOYS "R" US and walk them through and say NOPE can't have that toy, nope not that one either , oh no not that one. as your kids cry and screams but mommy, then throw your spoiled rotten little brats in your mini van walk into McDonalds and make your little mosters stand there and watch as family after family orders Happy Meals and tell your kids nope can't have that because mommy is an IDIOT!!! and tried to sue this place.
On a side note , EVERYONE notice it does not say California Family or Parents NO because her husband either already knows what we just found out about this lady... she is frggn nuts and a complete moron or he is probably watching football mumbling to himself " THE ONE TIME I DRANK TOO MUCH VEGAS I WAKE UP MARRIED>>> sir take the rope off your neck and get off the chair, we ALL see it now and agree with you your wife is stupid.
If this ladies MOM would have said NO ... I have a headache or the condom would not have broke we would not have to hear about this.
Way to funny, last line, we all see it now, and agree your wife is stupid. But sir hey its not your fault appearently you were drunk in Vegas and can't beheld accountable. Yes the evil Chilren of the Corn need to be stopped, and it starts with the moronic ,idiot parents of these type of kids, you know the one when you at the store and the kids are running up and down all over the place , Jonny put that down, only to have little Jonny pick it up again as the mother is not paying attenetion. Your kids are brats because you let them be brats, they control you becuase you let them control you. Don't blame the gun for killing , blame the person pulling the trigger. This Lady is a waste of air... yep I said it a waste of air
If you dont want your kid to eat happy meals, THEN DONT BUY THEM FOR YOUR KID!!!!!!!!! its not the the fast food chains fault americas fat. its americas fault they are fat, because they buy the food. if you dont buy it ,you wont eat it, if you dont eat it you wont get fat. its simple. stop blaming everyone else.
Turn off your TV lady! Then you won't have to worry about anyone marketing anything you don't approve of to your kids. You're the parent. It's your job to say No. This is exactly why we need the loser to pay all legal costs for filing frivilous civil lawsuits.
I like this woman's parenting style.
I've filed suits against walmart for selling toys, hasboro for toy commercials, my local grocery store for displaying those worthless impulse buy toys in the check-out lane, my parents for buying my kids toys for christmas, myself for buying gifts and finally santa claus for leaving some gifts with his name on them.
All of these are contributing to my inability to say "NO" to my children through out the year. IT'S EVERYONE ELSE'S FAULT!!!
I certainly hope that is sarcasm.
Ha! Yup, its going to probably end up this way someday.
Didn't get the toy surprise she wanted?
OMG. This lawsuit is totally ridicuous and a waste of the court sytems time. People take no responsibility for themselves these days. They could be jogging in a field and trip and fall and want to sue the company who laid the sod. Take responsibility for your children lady you big loser!
This is ridiculous. The woman actually claims the chain is making it more difficult to say no to her children? Well, guess what, that is part of the job of parenting. Additionally, she doesn't have to take her family to McDonalds at all. If she wanted to remove the temptation she can simply choose to take her children elsewhere. This kind of individual is the problem with parents today. They are too soft to take charge of a situation and put their foot down when it counts, not when it's a matter of free choice.
This is a travesty. When are they going to pass a federal law about filing frivolous law suits? Says the woman who went to jury trial when she was in a car accident and sued by an uninsured driver without a valid license and multiple dwi's........ Throw these lawsuits out of court and CHARGE the people who bring them for the timem wasted by the state!!
My husband always had a saying when we were raising our children: HE WHO HOLDS THE GOLD, MAKES THE RULES. Lady, you better take your home back from your children who are running it>
Obviously trying for some "easy" money and trying to grab the coat tails of yesterday's latest government mandate that they should be raising our children. I chose what my children ate when they were kids, not them, no matter how much they whined. I also find it interesting that the photo and article didn't identify the fact that apples and low fat milk are available with these meals.
Whatever happened to the parent saying "NO". If the gal doesn't want her children to partake of McDonald's Happy Meals then.....DON'T DRIVE TO MCDONALDS. Common Sense is NOT so common. I am tired of these individuals always using the excuse of suing and wasting tax payers money when all the have to have is a bit of a brain to say no to their children. No sorry....NO you must earn it! NO NO NO.
My 3, 9 and 11 year olds NEVER ask me for McDonalds, they don't even ask me for fast food in general. We just never eat it and I sit down and talk to my kids about the benefits of not eating junk food. They honestly never cared much about the toys, they aren't that amazing. Now if they put a DS in the box then maybe 🙂 Anyhow I think it's mostly the parents responsibility to control what their kids eat. If the toy is really a problem I'd offer a better toy as a reward for eating all their veggies every night for a week...or whatever. Talk to your kids about everything, drugs, drinking, and of course keeping yourself healthy!!
What a crock. My guess is this woman is poor and is looking for a quick dollar. Perhaps if you can't control your kids or tell them no, you should have kept your legs shut.
Lazy parenting! There is a word that can put a stop to it and it is " NO" It is very apparent who wears the pants in her family.
Really????? Happy Meals are an American staple. I have two kids and they like McDonalds but they don't contantly beg for Happy Meals so they can get the toys. What it really boils down to is raising your children with some sense. I mean Happy Meals have all these healthy options now anyways. In the long run who is the parent? If you take you kid to McDonalds for a Happy Meal every day because they beg you too then that is on you. Learn to tell your child no and your child needs to learn to accept no for an answer.
Our society is just simply pathetic, the fact that this womans lack of accountability for raising her own children has become not only a law suit but also a NEWS WORTHY law suit is pathetic. No one takes ownership for anything anymore. It is always someone elses fault. We wonder why the country is in the shape its in......we are raising a bunch of pathetic leaches that will be content to sit on their butts and blame everyone else for their situations....pathetic
Honestly, McDonald's should be sued for ruining our food supply and serving sh!t (albeit, tasty, tasty sh!t) on a tray.
Why should we sue anyone for providing a service/product for which there is a demand? Isn't this a capitalist society? If we don't like the way a company is doing something or if we don't like their product, the solution is easy: money talks. Don't give them your money. Eventually, they'd have to conform to what the public wants. Unfortunately (for you nay-sayers, at least), the public wants Big Macs and french fries (and maybe even toys-gasp!!). Who is anyone to tell a company they can not provide a product to a population who WANTS to buy that product??
Wow maybe she should just turn her kids over to the state of CA since she seems to be incapable of saying no to her kids. It's called being a parent, you know having the wisdom to guide them until they can. Besides if they just want the toy then just get the toy you are not required to get the food that goes with it. Or better yet pack a nice lunch take your kids to the park and let them play their hearts out. Oh wait that means you would have to be a parent, oh we can't have that can we................
Next, she will be suing a toilet paper company because her children don't clean themselves properly after using the bathroom. Her kids would benefit more if she took responsibility for how she raises them, instead of shifting the blame.
her kids would have been better off if she believed in abortion or adoption. or just used protection.
LOL! Oh man – I hope that McDonalds gives her kids food & toys for life. This is by far & away the silliest law suit known to man. I agree with many of the posted comments – the parent needs to take control of her children here, McDonalds will continue to market to kids and families and the world will keep on turning. How many years have kids been enjoying chicken nuggets, Hi-C and a time in the playground PLUS a toy for being good while their parents have a meal together? I doubt that there are any 30 something’s out there that did not have or attend at least 1 birthday party at McD's growing up. Get over yourself Mrs. Parham and focus on REAL issues – like your kids grades, helping them make good nutrition choices and getting them to college.
Mcdonalds should either just give her a pallet of Happy meal toys, or just ship her all the new ones for the next 5 years.
Honestly, this lawsuit is stupid. Are they marketing towards children? Yes – of course. However, step up to the plate and parent your own children. I use to take my kids once in a blue moon to McDonalds for a Happy Meal. We would eat inside the McDonald's and they really enjoyed it. Of course I would tell them that it was okay for a treat but it wasn't the food to be eaten all the time. Then I told them what goes into the food, etc., etc. My kids no longer want to go to McDonald's. This is not to slam McDonald's but illustrate our choice. I put rules down for my children. If we still wanted to go to McDonald's and get a Happy Meal, I think we should be allowed to do so. Will this woman next be suing someone for Halloween? I do allow my healthy and fit children to eat their halloween candy but they don't usually get it everyday – even if they whine for it.
You dont need 2 sue Mcdonalds if ONLY your kids wont eat there and get the toys. Other kids eat the happy meal fine. When your kids dont eat and they want the toy, dont take them there. Its something called, "Putting your foot down" and toughing up to your kids. I agree with stars.
Don't forget the include Toys R Us, Wal-mart and all the other giants who sell toys that ALL of our children are begging for daily. Those happy meals toys aren't free, they're sold, along with a meal. We just happen to be able to say no to our children. Surely the courts are not going to be ignorant enought to let this lawsuit continue. Then you'll have to sue every other fast food joint in the world. This woman needs some serious help. It's just another "easy money" scheme. And if it becomes Class A or goes any further, my faith in the judicial system will be completely lost. She obviously is just looking for a quick buck. I wonder who runs her household, let me guess, the CHILDREN. The only thing that needs to be questioned here is this woman's parenting. Is this what she really wants to teach her children, to be lazy and look for an easy way out. This is one of the dumbest things I've ever heard. Woman seriously, you're a Moron and a disgrace a part of what's causing our country to become what it is. You're another beast with no morals thinking you should get something for nothing and you disgust me. Maybe Mc D's will countersue her for being an idiot.
What a waste of the courts' time and resources. It is hard to find a company that does not use some sort of enticement in their advertising. Should we sue them all for trying to market their products? It saddens me that so many parents are turning to government intervention to do their job. Avail yourself of the word "No". It's free, widely available and does not cost taxpayers a cent. You are not here to be your child's friend. You are here to be their parent and part of that job is setting boundaries. It's not easy, in fact it's the hardest job any of us will ever have, but we chose it and must bear all that it entails.
OF COURSE THEY MARKET TO CHILDREN!!!! Have people forgot we live in a capitalistic society with freedom of speech and choice? Just as we have the right to chose what we eat, McDonald's has the right to advertise to any demographic they choose. This just another excuse for bad parenting. My mother took me to McDonald's maybe a total of 5 times before age 12. That's it. Why? Because she was proactive with my health and watched what I ate, not the darn government. I hope this suit fails miserably.
That is the best response to any article I have read. Who ever you are right on the money!!!! And for her stupidity your dead on about the punishment for trying to sue for something like this... other than the spelling errors you should be writting for CNN or in Office somewhere.
oh GAWD. Woman, get a 2nd job and get a payout that way. And learn to say no and make it stick. Holy smokes. People amaze me.
This lady is crazy! How long has McDonalds been using this tactic? Cmon lady, we all have to deal with our kids wanting a kids meal, learn how to say "NO" and stop your whining....idiot.
I'm not afraid to tell my kids NO. In fact, I actually have fun with it.......We'll be driving toward the golden arches and my kids will ask me if we can go to McDonalds. I'll pretend not to hear and say....Huh?....I keep repeating this til we are past McDonalds then I'll say....Aww..you should have told me back there...now we're already past....Lol...Practically gives em a coronary every time...........This woman needs to grow a pair.
When this rediculous suit gets thrown out, the people that brought it to begin with should have to pay a fine. Unfortunately, there is always a sleezy lawyer to take any case and an irresponsible judge to sign off on it.
Seriously? I agree with Ken its a parents job to say NO all the time we cant just sue people becaue we are tired of monitoring our children if thats the case maybe i should sue MTV or any number of TV networks ot there for getting in my kids head with all the nonsense thats on tv hmmm heres a better idea maybe i can continue to be a parent and monitor what my kids do and continue telling them no to mcdonalds its simple i tell my kids were not going to eat that because its unhealthy so stop asking me ypu can whine cry and beg all you want its not going to happen and you have enough toys at home you can play with you dont need another cheap toy to add to the collection. guess what ... they do not ask to go to mcdonalds anymore
Can I sue China? My kids keep asking for toys made there.
Buying a happy meail is optional... it's not like McDonald's employees force you to buy it for your kid... if you don' tlike McDonald's ... Come on!! ... Go to Jack in the Box, don't make a bid deal out of it.
What a joke of a lawsuit this is. While a child may see the toy that is being given away in the Happy Meal that week he/she can't buy if for him/herself. It is the parent that buys it for the child. My son is 13 and I can count on one hand how many times we have gone to McDonalds. If a child is given a healthy balanced meal on a daily basis then going to McDonalds once a month won't be that big of deal. Or here is another idea, when your kids is whining and crying for McDonalds ignore him/her. If you can't do that then you shouldn't have had a child.
Will she sue Toys R Us for marketing to kids and changing the toys they want to play with? When does it stop? California should just secede and spare us all the insanity.
What a lot of people here are forgetting is the the power of discipline is more and more increasingly being taken from the parents by the state and natl govt. 20 years ago a spamking (when used for a valid reason and was not abusive) was a punishment. Now an open palm slap to the buttocks is child abuse and they take your kids away. Before you could lightly slap your child on the mouth if they were screaming and throwing temper tanturms in the grocery store, now you do it and they take your kids away. Before you could ground them from the phone and TV and computers and such, now it is considered cruel and unjust to block their facebook accts and take away their cell phones, and they take your kids away. It IS getting harder and harder to say "No" to your children because the state and govt systems have almost taken all that power from the parents.
Now I agree that sueing McDonalds because of Happy Meal Toys is stupid, mainly because her problems aren't rooted there. We need to have our rights, as parents, to properly and justly punish our children returned to us.
I call for a review of ALL public law, and that the ones that restrict and infringe on the public rights of law abiding citezens be repealed or abolished. When the children hold power in the home, then the home has no power over the children.
BTW... IMO if we keep going the way we have been heading we might as well start building state run homes, and as soon as a child is born, turn the child over to those homes and let them raise them. Because by definition of the law, I doubt there is a single "fit" parent in the world, let alone the US.
It appears this bored house wife is one step away from cheating on her husband, since she obviously has nothing better to do with her time. Her kids probably want McDonald's because she is a lousy cook. They are seeing McDonald's ads on TV, so maybe she should get her kids motivated to be active, so they can have the occasional treat. I guess when they start wanting to drink, she'll sue the beer, wine, and liquor company? She should not sublimate her anger for failing at life by being litigious, but instead set an example for her kids to follow. She might as well sue the movie industry, since they release toys and other merchandise before the movie.
Is this a real article?
Every year I have to tell my kids we don't have the money to go to Disney World. If only they would shut the place down
If this even goes to court or legal system is Just plain screwed up, just like the hot coffie deal