Fast-food chains sued as Chile outlaws happy meals

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) - McDonald's, Burger King, KFC and other fast-food companies are being accused in Chile of violating the country's new law against including toys with children's meals.

Sen. Guido Gerardi filed a formal complaint Wednesday with the health authority accusing those and other companies of knowingly endangering the health of children by marketing kids' meals with toys more than a month after the law took effect June 7.

Gerardi said he's also targeting the makers of cereal, ice cream and other products that include toys, crayons and stickers with their products as well as markets where the food is sold.

If his allegations are upheld by Chile's health ministry, the companies could be forced to remove the products or face fines.

"These businesses know that these foods damage the health of children and they know the law is in effect. They're using fraudulent and abusive methods. Burger King puts toys in its 'happy meals' and this is illegal; so is the unhappy little box of McDonald's," Gerardi said.

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

An ordinance banning the use of toys in fast-food sales took effect in San Francisco last year, but a similar measure was defeated in New York. The experience of both U.S. cities helped Gerardi craft his "junk food law," his spokeswoman, Carol Bortnick, said.

Gerardi said he wrote the law because nearly a quarter of Chile's 6-year-olds suffer from childhood obesity.

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8/1/2012 3:08:11 PM (GMT -7:00)