FoodFacts.com has been watching this story develop and wants to bring you the latest news. Earlier this year, the Federal Trade Commission, the Agriculture Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention jointly wrote a series of guidelines that would set maximum levels of fat, sugars and sodium for food products. This series of guidelines also included a request to the food industry not to specifically market foods that do not adhere to those suggested guidelines to children between the ages of 2 and 17. This request encompassed advertising on television, in stores and on the internet and it also included the removal of cartoon characters from cereal boxes.
The food industry has been fighting back and has aggressively lobbied against the guidelines. They claim that adherence to the proposed guidelines would severely limit the marketing of most all food products in the country and most especially children’s food products. Although they acknowledge that the guidelines are voluntary, they fear that there could be retaliation against them for not adhering.
After hearing industry objectives, government agencies are said to have reconsidered their stance. The Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection acknowledged that they will be making significant revisions to their proposal.
In answer to the government guidelines, food companies came up with their own set of guidelines. While the industry proposal does include limiting advertising on some children’s foods, they’ve adjusted the criteria. While the industry has been praised by officials, their own proposal is far more lenient than the government offering.
Most parents in America have lived through the “grocery store as toy store” effects of children’s food packaging and surprise-inside-the-box marketing tactics on our kids as they joined us at our local markets in their very young years. You can easily assume that those cartoon characters, images and photos are designed to market products to kids before they can actually read. How many times did your three-year-old tell you he or she wanted that box that carried those colorful images gracing not only the box, but the TV-screen as well? Tony the Tiger, Toucan Sam and the Trix Rabbit are pretty powerful, to say the least.
FoodFacts.com just has to ask: if the food industry understands the power of these images in marketing to children, (and we know they absolutely do) why can’t they use them to promote products we’d all be happy to feed our kids? Like cereals that are low in sugar and are made from whole grains that don’t contain fake fruit and odd colors? The industry would still be selling products to children. It’s just that our kids would want us to buy what’s good for them because those appealing characters would now grace the boxes parents would rather purchase. Seems like a win-win to us. Oh … and we could all take a vacation from repeating the word “no” as we walk down supermarket aisles with our three-year-old kids as they point out their animated pals on the store shelves.