The San Francisco Board of Supervisors today gave final approval to an ordinance that would force fast-food restaurants to make the meals they market to children healthier.
Supervisor Eric Mar’s ordinance would require that, in order to be sold with toys or other items targeted at youth, meals such as the McDonald’s Happy Meal include fruits or vegetables and not have excessive calories, sodium, fat and sugar.
McDonald’s opposed the legislation, arguing parents should be allowed to make their own choices. At least one local McDonald’s owner complained that the law would effectively ban him from serving Happy Meals in their current form.
Mar today called the legislation “a simple and modest policy that holds fast food accountable.”
He argued that with childhood obesity a major concern, it’s necessary to compel restaurants that market to children to offer healthier choices.
Mayor Gavin Newsom, who opposed the legislation, said in a statement following today’s vote that he would veto “this unwise and unprecedented government intrusion into parental responsibilities and private choices.”
Newsom said that no city in the country had done more than San Francisco to “educate our children and encourage families to make healthier eating choices.”
However, the board’s 8-3 vote today approving the ordinance constituted a veto-proof majority.
In other action today, Supervisor John Avalos introduced a motion that could have the board vote as early as next Tuesday on an interim mayor to replace Newsom, who will leave for Sacramento in January to become lieutenant governor.
Though the vacancy will not occur until then, Avalos contended that a replacement should be in place as soon as possible given the learning curve for a new mayor and the daunting budgetary issues facing the city.
Board President David Chiu submitted a related but slightly different motion asking the clerk of the board to propose a process for nominating and selecting an interim mayor. The process would be reviewed by the board on Nov. 23.
As board president, Chiu would automatically become acting mayor once Newsom vacates the seat, but either the current board or the newly constituted board that will be seated on Jan. 8 has the option of then appointing an interim mayor until the next mayoral election in November 2011.
The selection would have to be approved by a vote of six or more, and board members would be unable to vote for themselves.
Ari Burack, Bay City News