Marketing standards to children proposed

by Staff
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ARLINGTON, VA. — The Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative, a program of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, has developed an agreement with member food and beverage companies on nutritional standards of foods and beverages advertised to children. The standards are being released several months after the Federal Trade Commission and several other government agencies proposed more restrictive standards at the request of Congress.

“These uniform nutrition criteria represent another huge step forward, further strengthening voluntary efforts to improve child-directed advertising,” said Elaine Kolish, vice-president and director of the C.F.B.A.I. “Now foods from different companies, such as cereals or canned pastas, will meet the same nutrition criteria, rather than similar but slightly different company-specific criteria. The new criteria are comprehensive, establishing limits for calories, saturated fat, trans fat, sodium and total sugars as well as requirements for nutrition components to encourage.”

The requirements divide foods into ten categories and provide criteria for each category. The categories include 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.

The specific requirements for the categories include:

• For juices, there may be no added sugars, and a serving must not contain more than 160 calories.
• In the dairy category, ready-to-drink flavored milks must not exceed 24 grams of total sugars in an 8-fl-oz portion. In yogurt products, a 6-oz portion is limited to 170 calories and 23 grams 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 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 290 mg of sodium and 10 g of sugar. The foods must also have a half or more serving of foods to encourage or more than 10% of the daily value of an essential nutrient.
• Seeds, nuts, nut butters and spreads may not have more than 220 calories, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 240 mg of sodium and 4 grams 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 15 grams of sugar per serving. The foods must also have 1 or more servings of foods to encourage or a half or more serving of foods to encourage and 10% or more of the daily value of two essential nutrients.

The C.F.B.A.I. 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 C.F.B.A.I. 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 Grocery Manufacturers Association applauds the member companies of the Children’s Food and Beverage Initiative for today’s groundbreaking agreement to update and strengthen the C.F.B.A.I. initiative with the adoption of uniform nutrition criteria for foods advertised to children,” the G.M.A. said in a statement. “The uniform standards announced today strengthen C.F.B.A.I. by establishing limits for calories, saturated fat, trans fat, sodium and total sugars. These changes are part of our industry’s constant effort to review our products and programs in an effort to keep pace with constantly changing consumer trends and nutrition science.”

The Interagency Working Group on Food Marketing to Children, which included representatives from the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Federal Trade Commission, released standards in May that also seek to limit saturated fat, trans fat, added sugars and sodium. However, the standards are perceived to be more restrictive because they are more broad-based and apply to all food groups nearly equally. Additionally, the proposal requires foods that are advertised to make a “meaningful contribution to a healthful diet,” by containing contributions from at lease one the following foods groups: fruit, vegetables, whole-grain, fat-free or low-fat milk products, fish, extra-lean meat or poultry, eggs, nuts and seeds or beans. The proposals would also apply to advertising in magazines, the Internet and social media in addition to television.

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