San Francisco mayor to veto curb on fast-food toys

Fri Nov 12, 2010 4:27pm EST
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By Lisa Baertlein

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom plans to veto a new city law that would curb toy giveaways in unhealthy restaurant meals for children, but the move would be symbolic since it was approved in a veto-proof vote.

The law is slated to go into effect on December 1, 2011 and, like an ordinance passed earlier this year in nearby Santa Clara County, will require that restaurant kids' meals meet certain nutritional standards before they could be sold with toys.

Opponents of the law include the National Restaurant Association and McDonald's Corp, which used its now wildly popular Happy Meal to pioneer the use of free toys to market directly to children.

"We must continue pursuing real strategies against childhood obesity, but this legislation takes an intrusive and ineffective approach. Parents, not politicians, should decide what their children eat, especially when it comes to spending their own money," Newsom, who was elected California's lieutenant governor on November 2, said in a statement.

San Francisco's law has gotten national attention and comes as public health officials, parents and other groups have grown frustrated with what they say are weak anti-obesity efforts on the part of the restaurant industry.

San Francisco's Board of Supervisors earlier this week passed the legislation with a supermajority vote of 8 to 3.

"We expect the same 8 to 3 vote to override Mayor Newsom's proposed veto," said Eric Mar, the supervisor who sponsored the legislation.

Mar said he supports Newsom's commitment to healthy eating and active living in San Francisco, but was surprised that the mayor intends to veto the law.   Continued...

<p>Two McDonald's Happy Meal with toy watches fashioned after the characters Donkey and Puss in Boots from the movie "Shrek Forever After" are pictured in Los Angeles June 22, 2010. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>