Campbell, Danone, Kraft, Mars and PepsiCo agree to improve school snacks

Five months after forging an agreement limiting the sale of sodas in schools, former President Bill Clinton and the American Heart Assn. announced a deal in October with five major food companies to make school snacks healthier.

The agreement with Campbell Soup Co., Groupe Danone SA, Kraft Foods Inc., Mars Inc. and PepsiCo Inc. sets guidelines for fat, sugar, sodium and calories for snacks sold in school vending machines, stores and snack bars. Those companies make everything from yogurt, granola bars and soup to Frito-Lay potato chips, Snickers bars and Goldfish crackers.

The agreement follows guidelines from scientists and nutritionists that suggest most foods should provide less than 35 percent of their calories from fat and less than 10 percent from saturated fat, and sugar content that is less than 35 percent of the product's weight.

The limits would mean a ban on the Snickers bar, Associated Press reported, which has 280 calories, 130 of them from fat, and 30g of sugar out of a total weight of 58.7g.

Charles Nicolas, a spokesman for PepsiCo, which owns Frito-Lay and Quaker, told Associated Press that Frito-Lay already has products that meet the guidelines, such as baked potato chips and reduced-sugar snack bars. "We're going to change a few recipes so that more snacks meet those guidelines as well," he said.

Kraft said in a statement it would add the sodium and calorie caps to its vending products nutrition guidelines "and extend them to include all of [our] competitive foods sold in schools."

"By working with schools and industry to implement these guidelines, we are helping to give parents peace of mind that their kids will be able to make healthier choices at school," said Dr. Raymond Gibbons, president of the heart association, which teamed with the William J. Clinton Foundation last year to form the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.

Bob Harrison, executive director of the alliance, said the snack food industry is not as concentrated as the beverage industry, so the reach of this agreement will not be as wide as the estimated 87 percent coverage of the May alliance with leaders in the beverage industry. But he noted the five companies participating in the snack food agreement are market leaders.

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