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McDonald's Sued Over Happy Meal Toys

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- McDonald's (MCD) is being sued by a California mother of two who claims the fast-food chain's advertising violates California consumer protection laws, luring children into its restaurants by offering toys in its famous Happy Meals.

Because of the popularity of its Happy Meals, McDonald's is one of the top toy distributors in the world. McDonald's is not alone in enjoying the success of kids' meals; chains including Wendy's Arby's (WEN), Sonic (SONC), Yum! Brands' (YUM) Taco Bell and Burger King, among others, also offer free toys in their kids' meals.

The class action lawsuit's lead plaintiff, Monet Parham, filed the lawsuit in December. She is represented by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nutrition advocacy group.


Happy Meal toys and other fast-food kids' meals toys have been called into question lately after a New York City councilman, following in the footsteps of a measure adopted in San Francisco last year, proposed that free toys be banned from fast-food meals intended to appeal to children unless the meals meet certain healthfulness guidelines.

Parham admitted she often says "no" to her kids when they ask for Happy Meals, leading McDonald's to counter that "she was not misled by any advertising, nor did she rely on any information from McDonald's."

"In short, advertising to children any product that a child asks for but the parent does not want to buy would constitute an unfair trade practice," McDonald's said, in describing their argument against the lawsuit.

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