Burger King, Others Support Self-Regulation of Foods Marketed to Children

July 18, 2011

In response to nutrition guidelines proposed by a government working group, Burger King, Cadbury, and Campbell Soup are among 18 companies who have pledged to meet their own standards for foods marketed toward children.

In response to nutrition guidelines proposed by a government working group, Burger King, Cadbury, and Campbell Soup are among 18 companies who have pledged to meet their own standards for foods marketed toward children.

Back in April, the U.S. Congress asked an interagency working group-made up of the USDA, FDA, FTC, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-to published nutrition guidance for reducing saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, sugar, and calories in foods marketed to children. But as the comment period for the voluntary guidance comes to a close, these food manufacturers are pledging to meet what critics call their own set of weaker standards.

Announced last week, the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI) calls for new standards in 10 product categories. Examples include no added sugars in juices; no more than 240 g of sugar in seeds, nuts, nut butters, and spreads; and no more than 350 calories in main dishes and entrees. According to a CFBAI statement, “the new uniform nutrition criteria will require many companies to change the recipes of these products or they will not be able to advertise them after December 31, 2013.”

Numerous U.S. food manufacturers have signed onto the pledge. (A full list of pledging companies can be found here.)

Media reports indicate that FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz is supporting the industry compromise, but one industry watchdog is critical of the industry’s self-regulating move.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI; Washington, DC) called the creation of the CFBAI “a transparent attempt to undermine the stronger standards proposed by the government’s Interagency Working Group.” CSPI contends that standards approved under the CFBAI would allow products like Cocoa Puffs and Kool-Aid to continue advertising to children.

The Los Angeles Times reports that two-thirds of the companies’ recipes already meet CFBAI nutritional qualifications.