McDonald's Can Keep Happy Meal Toys, Court Rules

Good news for California kids who like to play with their food.  A class-action lawsuit seeking to ban toys in Happy Meals in most parts of California was thrown out on Thursday.

The lawsuit was filed in 2010 by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a consumer advocacy group, and Monet Parham, listed in the suit as a California mother.

Superior Court Judge Richard Kramer did not give a reason for his decision to throw out the suit.

Michael Jacobson, CSPI's executive director, criticized the court's decision in a statement on the group's website.

"McDonald's must stop exploiting children at some point. Using toys, of all things, to lure young children to fast-food meals is not responsible corporate behavior," Jacobson wrote.

Keith Ayoob, associate professor of pediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, said he isn't bothered by McDonald's marketing tactics, especially since the fast-food giant has made moves in recent years to offer healthier options for Happy Meals, like apple slices and low-fat milk.

"The happy meal doesn't have a lot of calories. Depending on how you choose, it can have fewer calories than a school lunch," Ayoob said. "I'm not quite sure what the issue is here. It seems like it's more based on ideology rather than the actual facts."

Ordinances in San Francisco and Santa Clara county banning toy giveaways with meals targeted at children are unaffected by the court's ruling.