A consumer group wants McDonald’s to stop using Happy Meal toys to lure children into its restaurants and has threatened to sue if the world’s biggest hamburger chain does not comply within 30 days.

 

The Center for Science in the Public Interest calls the practice of using toys “unfair and deceptive marketing” and says it is illegal under consumer protection laws in states including California, Texas, New Jersey and Massachusetts.

 

“It’s a creepy and predatory practice that warrants an injunction,” CSPI’s litigation director, Stephen Gardner, said in a statement.

 

In 2006, the latest year for which data is available, fast-food companies, led by McDonald’s, spent more than $520 million on advertising and toys to promote children’s meals, according to a Federal Trade Commission report.


Such advertising appears to have significant influence over youngsters and has come under renewed scrutiny in the United States, where obesity in children is under attack.