Earlier today, Taco Bell announced it has decided to stop selling kids meals and toys in all of its U.S. restaurants. So, naturally, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) and other Food Police chieftains are out claiming victory against the fast food industry (even though Taco Bell CEO Greg Creed said it was ultimately a business decision — Taco Bell didn’t sell many kids’ meals). The most cynical part of this story, though, is that CSPI is less concerned with the absence of kids meals than they are about taking toys away from kids.
According to CSPI’s Margo Wootan, “It’s a constructive step forward that Taco Bell will no longer use toys to encourage kids to pester their parents to go to their restaurants.” Seriously? What about the fact that Taco Bell has not advertised its kids meals – or toys – on television or social media in over a decade? Even if they had, parents can still say the magic word: “No.” (Followed by “Go to your room!” if the pestering persists.)
And regarding the oft-repeated claim that kids meals are less healthy than other alternatives, we have written before about how that isn’t necessarily true. The irony here too is that without the option of a smaller-portion meal, kids might now choose from a menu of adult-sized portions, a point which Wootan even concedes will likely lead to them consuming more calories than before.
It would thus seem that perhaps kids meals aren’t that bad of a bargain after all. But then again, food policing has always been primarily about controlling choice, not promoting health.