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No McDonald’s Happy Meal toy? Chile bans toys in children’s meals

Chile passes a law to prevent toys from being included in children's meals, targeting McDonald's Happy Meal and other fast-food restaurants like Burger King and Kentucky Fried Chicken.

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McDonald's Happy Meal, seen here in a 2010 file photo, is no longer supposed to include toys in Chile, after the country passed a law banning toys from children's meals. McDonald's, Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken and other fast-food companies are being sued in Chile for violating the country's new law against including toys with children's meals.

Eric Risberg/AP/File

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A new law in Chile aims to take some of the fun out of fast-food by forcing McDonald's, Burger King, KFC and other restaurants to stop including toys and other goodies with children's meals.

The companies are still using toys to draw in Chile's increasingly chubby children more than a month after the ban took effect on June 7, Sen. Giudo Girardi said as he filed a formal complaint Wednesday with the health ministry.

"These businesses know that this food damages the health of children and they know that the law is in effect. They're using fraudulent and abusive means," Mr. Girardi said.

The complaint also targets makers of cereal, popsicles, and other products that attract children with toys, crayons or stickers, as well as markets that sell the food.

If Chile's health ministry upholds his allegations, the companies could be forced to remove the goodies or face nominal fines.

The Associated Press left messages seeking reaction with spokesmen for McDonald's Corp., Burger King Worldwide Inc. and KFC's owner, Yum Brands Inc.

Girardi said he wrote the law because nearly a quarter of Chile's 6-year-olds now suffer from childhood obesity — and that its passage came despite seven years of industry lobbying.

"These corporations threatened that if the law was approved there would be no more money for children's foundations, the sick, or athletes, but we were finally able to create a great alliance between the civil society and scientists to defeat these lobbyists," the senator said.

McDonald's Happy Meals — marketed as "Cajitas Felices" in Spanish — have been a major draw for 4-year-old Florencia Moraga, who was playing with her Ice Age movie toys Wednesday night with her father Ricardo at a restaurant in downtown Santiago.

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