When I saw that Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) was behind the lawsuit filed against McDonald’s I knew science had nothing to do with it and that the case wasn’t good for the industry.

The suit essentially is aimed at halting McDonald’s use of toys in its marketing efforts. The mother who is the lead plaintiff for CSPI says she hopes to stop McDonald’s from getting in between her and her family. I don’t know what that says about her parenting skills, or what it says about creeping governmental influence into every aspect of our lives, but it does conjure up Big Brother visions.

It’s easy to dismiss this suit as simply an absurdity, but it potentially represents a very dangerous precedent. The city of San Francisco recently banned the inclusion of toys in children’s meals that don’t meet certain nutritional guidelines, and Santa Clara County, CA, passed a similar law.

I’m all for protecting children and there’s little doubt that child obesity is both a real and significant problem. While it may begin with removing toys from Happy Meals and banning Coke machines in schools, those wins won’t satisfy these groups; they want to dictate diets in general. Even First Lady Michelle Obama came out this week in the child-nutrition debate to say that “we can’t just leave it up to the parents.”

It is indeed a slippery slope. If toys can be banned, then eventually so, too, can hamburgers and French fries. In the end, it won’t matter if they can’t dictate how we raise and market our cattle, if they can dictate how our product can be marketed and to whom.
-- Troy Marshall