Business, Economics and Jobs

Brazil fines McDonald's for $1.6 million for pushing Happy Meals on children


A photo illustration of a Happy Meal at McDonalds on November 3, 2010 in San Francisco, California. San Francisco became the first city in the country to pass a law to control the giving away of free toys with unhealthy meals for children. The law requires that kid's meals meet nutritional standards before they can be sold with toys.


David Paul Morris

SÃO PAULO, Brazil — Brazil's consumer protection agency, Procon, has fined McDonald's for pushing Happy Meals on children through targeted advertising and toys.

"This is not an isolated case," said Procon's top lawyer in São Paulo, Renan Ferraciolli. "There's no need to appeal as they do to children without the maturity or the rationality to enter the market as consumers."

The fine was initially announced in 2011 after a 2010 campaign that included toys from the movie Avatar and a local TV series was called into question.

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The agency also said it has grounds to consider additional fines as McDonald's marketing activities have since continued along the same lines.

In a statement, the Golden Arches Development Corp, owner of McDonald's, said it would take up the issue of the fine with judicial powers.

A spokeswoman for McDonald's declined to comment. The company can appeal Procon's ruling in court.

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The fine is the latest in a string of tactics by Brazilian regulators that are cracking down on big companies for what are seen as consumer abuses. Brazilian banks, phone companies and private health plans have been penalized in recent months.

Pediatricians in the United States have also come together against advertising unhealthy foods to children, but legal measures have yet to make much of a mark. Last year, a judge threw out a lawsuit against Happy Meal marketing in the US.