Canadian Happy Meals may become a bit less happy if one lawyer has his way. Joey Zukran, an attorney who specializes in "consumer protection," has filed a class action lawsuit against McDonald's because he feels the fast food behemoth has been illegally marketing to children in Quebec.
Toy displays may violate laws protecting kids
According to Zukran, toy displays, posters, and on-screen promotions in restaurants violate consumer protection laws put in place to protect children from unwarranted advertising. According to the law, it is illegal to advertise directly to children under the age of 13. Zukran told CTV media the displays should be removed from the restaurants because seeing them "incites young children to want to purchase the item just because of the toy.".
McDonald's in Quebec has faced legal force in the past for marketing to children. In 2009, a lobby group called the Quebec Weight Coalition successfully saw the chain fined after the corporation aired a commercial for Happy Meals, including the toy, in the province. The Coalition has voiced support for the current class-conscious lawsuit, but is not yet calling for a complete ban of the toys.
Currently, two websites exist for the company in Canada -- the one for the majority of Canadians features advertising for Happy Meal products and displays pictures of all of the toys currently available at local McDonald's restaurants. The Quebec-only website shows the food items available in the meal, but makes no mention of toys being included.
Despite a recent failure to have Happy Meal toys banned in the state of California in 2012, Zukran remains convinced that Quebec's strict consumer laws may work out in his clients' favor.
Claimants in his case are seeking both compensatory and punitive damages from McDonald's, but it can take up to a year before a judge decides whether the case will proceed.
Canadian government could make meal toys illegal across country
Following a recent report by the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada that found children under the age of 11 view more than 25 million ads per year, the Canadian federal government has been looking into restricting marketing toward kids across the country. A bill currently before the Trudeau government would amend the Food and Drug Act and make it illegal to market "junk food" to children on television, online, in print, or on product packaging. The move would also ban the use of characters to endorse products, as several brands of sugary cereals and drinks currently use cartoon mascots to market their products to children.
Such a move could cost American food distributors and marketing firms, who would need to produce separate packaging and promotions for each side of the border. #Class Action Lawsuits