Marketers Release New Kids Food Guidelines

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The Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative has unveiled its new guidelines for food marketing to kids, which it says will require food companies to reformulate approximately one-third of the products they advertise to kids if they want to continue to do so.

Under the new guidelines, agreed to last week by the 17 members of the initiative representing most of the biggest names in food marketing, "most" sweetened cereals will have to have no more than 10 grams of added sugars rather than the current 12 grams that had been the general standard. Another example is canned pastas will have to have 600 mg of sodium or less to be advertised in kids shows, rather than the current CFBAI standard of 750.

The industry guidelines also set new limits for sugars, sodium and saturated fats in juices, dairy products, fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, main dishes and entrees.

Federal Trade Commission chairman Jon Leibowitz had signaled at a Hill hearing the week before that the new industry guidelines would be forthcoming, and gave them a shout-out at that time, saying they should be factored into whatever final recommendation comes out of interagency working group, which proposed even tougher food marketing guidelines in April. The industry response came in comments on those guidelines.

The Council of Better Business Bureaus, which oversees the CFBAI, called it "a groundbreaking agreement that will change the landscape of what is advertised to kids by the nation's largest food and beverage companies."

The Center for Science in the Public Interest was not so sanguine. "[The guidelines] are a transparent attempt to undermine the stronger standards proposed by the government's Interagency Working Group," said CSPI on its Web site.

Companies that signed on to the new limits are Burger King Corp.; Cadbury Adams USA LLC; Campbell Soup Co.; The Coca-Cola Co.; ConAgra Foods, Inc.; The Dannon Co.; General Mills, Inc.; The Hershey Co.; Kellogg Co.; Kraft Foods Global, Inc.; Mars, Inc.; McDonald's USA, LLC; Nestlé USA; PepsiCo, Inc.; Post Foods, LLC; Sara Lee Corp.;and Unilever United States.

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