For the second time in just a few months McDonald's has been found to be in breach of its commitment to refrain from marketing products to children that are not healthy choices after another complaint was upheld by the Advertising Standards Board (ASB).
Vouchers for Happy Meals, which include a cheeseburger, Coke and fries, were given to children as young as seven as part of a team spirit award at the University of Sunshine Coast Basketball Club competition in Queensland.
The Happy Meal shown on the voucher contains 2,678kJ, 7.7g of saturated fat, more than 900mg of sodium and more than 30g of sugar. In July a similar complaint was upheld by the ASB after McDonald's was found handing out vouchers for small fries to children at KidsTown Adventure playground near Shepparton in Victoria.
Executive Manager of the OPC Jane Martin says the repeated instances of irresponsible marketing cast serious doubt over McDonald's "commitment" to the health of Australian children.
"McDonald's is seriously lacking team spirit by offering free Happy Meals to children. To promote products that are very high in fat, sugar and salt at junior basketball sends mixed messages and is unfair on Australian children and families. Kids should be able to learn a lifelong enjoyment of sport in an environment free from marketing or junk food." she says.
"This is the second time in just a few months that McDonald's has put the promotion of its salty, energy dense products ahead of its commitment to market responsibly."
Research shows that exposure to the promotion of unhealthy food influences what children eat, what they want to eat and what they pester their parents to buy.
"With poor diets now a major contributor to the burden of disease in Australia, protecting children from junk food marketing has never been so important," Ms Martin says.
The full determination from the ASB is available on request.