Back at you, Feds

In answer to the government's proposed guidelines for advertising junk food and sugary cereals to kids, the food industry came up with its own plan to regulate itself without government intervention, reports the Boston Globe. The Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI)-- formed by a coalition of 17 food companies including Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, General Mills, ConAgra, and Kellogg agreed on standards for any products they market to kids.  The Grocery Manufacturers Association applauds the initiative.

 

Foods are divided into 10 categories -- juices; dairy products; grains, fruits and vegetable products; soups and meal sauces; seeds, nuts, nut butters and spreads; meat, fish and poultry products; mixed dishes; main dishes and entrees; small meals; and meals. Specific requirements include: For juices, there may be no added sugars, and a serving must not contain more than 160 calories; In the dairy category, RTD flavored milks must not exceed 24g of total sugars in an 8-fl-oz portion; In yogurt products, a 6-oz portion is limited to 170 calories and 23g of total sugars; For grains, fruits and vegetables and items not in other categories, foods with 150 calories or less may not have more than 1.5g of saturated fat, 290 mg of sodium and 10g of sugar. The foods must also have a half or more serving or more than 10% of the DV of an essential nutrient; Seeds, nuts, nut butters and spreads may not have more than 220 calories, 3.5g of saturated fat, 240 mg of sodium and 4grams of sugar per 2 tablespoons. The foods must also provide at least one ounce of protein; Main dishes and entrees must have no more than 350 calories, 10% calories from saturated fat, 600 mg of sodium and 15g of sugar per serving. The foods must also have 1 or more servings of foods or a half or more serving of foods and 10% or more of the daily value of two essential nutrients, reports Food Business News. CFBAI says it would also restrict saturated fat in products and lower sodium content to no more than 480mg per serving, while the government wants sodium restricted to no more than 210 mg for a product to be marketed to kids.

 

CFBAI said currently one in three products advertised to children do not meet the criteria. The uniform standards will require companies to change the recipes of products or they will not be able to advertise them after Dec. 31, 2013. Overall, the CFBAI said the new criteria fill in the gaps of company-specific criteria and encourage the development of products with less sodium, saturated fats and sugars and fewer calories.

 

The Interagency Working Group on Food Marketing to Children, which included representatives from the FDA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the USDA and the FTC, released standards in May that also seek to limit saturated fat, trans fat, added sugars and sodium. The CFBAI standards are less stringent than those proposed by the government. The CFBAI proposal, which also would apply to ads in magazines, the Internet, social media and TV, would still allow Tony the Tiger on Frosted Flakes as well as other cartoon characters on products -- something that would not be allowed under the government guidelines -- but only if the products meet nutritional standards and provide a "meaningful contribution to a healthful diet" by contributing from at least one of the following food groups: fruit, vegetable, whole grain, fat-free or low-fat dairy products, fish, lean poultry, eggs, nuts and seeds, beans.