People Of The World Rejoice! Your Happy Meals Are Safe! (For Now.)

A California judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by Monet Parham, a California mother of two, and The Center for Science in the Public Interest against McDonalds. Parham and the CSPI claimed:

When McDonald’s bombards children with advertisements or other marketing for Happy Meals with toys, many children will pester their parents to take them to McDonald’s. Once there, they are more than likely to receive a meal that is too high in calories, saturated fat, added sugars, and sodium, and devoid of whole grains.

The lawsuit further contends:

Because of McDonald’s marketing, [Parham’s daughter] Maya has frequently pestered Parham into purchasing Happy Meals, thereby spending money on a product she would not otherwise have purchased.

We are still trying to figure this out. This seems to be a lawsuit whose basis is the parent is a spineless wimp who cannot say “no” to her daughter. A parent that cannot establish boundaries for the behavior of a child has a many more issues than the purchase of a Happy Meal.

Finding no merit in the claim of “some one else should pay for a parent’s lack of parenting skills,” the court dismissed the lawsuit.

If this were the end of the story, that would be one thing. But as we peel back the curtain, we see that all is not as it appears to be. As Walter Olson writes in the New York Daily News:

Much of the interviewing press was happy to treat Monet Parham as a random (if oddly well-informed) California mom, but it didn’t take the blogosphere long to discover that she is apparently anything but random. Ira Stoll, who blogs at Future of Capitalism and used to put out the New York Times-tweaking, soon discovered (via a commenter) that she is in fact the same person as Monet Parham-Lee, who is a “regional program manager” on the state of California payroll for child nutrition matters.

Specifically, she works on a federally funded program that campaigns to exhort people to eat their vegetables and that sort of thing. The comment:

“Interestingly, her name has been scrubbed from the website of Champions for Change, the Network for a Healthy California. She has given numerous presentations and attended conferences on the importance of eating vegetables and whatnot.

“She presents herself as an ordinary mother. She is not. She is an advocate, and an employee of a California agency tasked with advocating the eating of vegetables. To the extent that Monet Parham-Lee has EVER taken her daughter to a McDonald’s, she should have known better.”

In other words, the lawsuit was simply a scam – a publicity stunt – put on by Parham-Lee and the CSPI.

If you are wondering who or what the CSPI is, they are basically a group of people who claim to know what you should do with your life more than you do. In the past, they have sued Denny’s over salt in breakfast meals. (Wait, there is salt in bacon and sausage? Who would have ever guessed that?) They have sued General Mills over not disclosing on the front packaging of Fruit Roll Ups that the product contains sugar.

But it goes deeper than that.

When one examines the staff at the CSPI, there is a problem – the “science” in “Center for Science in the Public Interest” seems to be missing.

Of the 26 “Senior Staff” listed on the CSPI’s website, only 5 – 7 of the staff actually have degrees in sciences relating to food, nutrition, biology, etc. That’s roughly 75% of the remaining staff that don’t have degrees in the areas of which the CSPI tries to tell people what to do. We may be a little old fashioned, but we think that an organization claiming to be scientific should have scientists on the staff.

It seems to us the CSPI is much like PETA, in that they are more concerned with suing, getting publicity and telling you how to run your life than any “public interest.”

But for now, the Happy Meal will live on, no matter how much deception and distortions are thrown against it.

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