The world's largest cereal maker was threatened with a lawsuit by parents and nutritional advocacy groups, who are worried by the increase in child obesity. In response, Kellogg promises to make their sugar-filled breakfast food healthier.
Kellogg will make a formal announcement on Thursday. They have agreed to stop promoting foods in TV, radio, print or website ads targeting children under the age of 12 unless a single serving of the product meets with certain standards.
If a single serving contains more than 200 calories, 2 grams of saturated fat, 230 milligrams of sodium, (except for Eggo frozen waffles), and 12 grams of sugar, (not counting sugar from fruit, dairy and vegetables), with zero trans fats, they would stop the marketing of the products to children under 12 by the end of 2008. They intend to reformulate the products before then.
Executive director of the Centre for Science in the Public Interest says,
Kellogg have vaulted over the rest of the food industry by committing to these nutrition standards and marketing reforms. This commitment means that parents will find it easier to steer their children toward healthy food choices - especially if other food manufacturers and broadcasters follow kellogg's lead.
Notice of intent to sue Kellogg, was served in January 2006, along with the Nickelodeon cable TV network by Jacobson's nutrition advocacy group, two Massachusetts parents, and the Boston based Campaign For A Commercial Free Childhood, under a Massachusetts law to stop them marketing junk food to kids. Kellogg contacted the plaintiffs and began negotiating new standards. They did not file the lawsuit, neither will it be filed.
Kellogg's sales were almost $11 billion in 2006. They manufacture cereals and snack foods. Fifty percent of products that Kellogg markets to children do not meet criteria, and a third of cereals in the US fall outside standards. Meeting the sugar and sodium standards could be the most challenging.
A Federal Trade Commission study found that half the US ads for junk food have doubled in the last 30 years and are shown on children's programs.
American companies spend about $15 billion a year on marketing and advertising to children under the age of 12, the Institute of Medicine said last year, when it warned that one third of American children are obese, or at risk for becoming obese.
Last November, Kellogg's and McDonald's Corp, joined eight other major food and drink companies, in an industry sponsored pledge to promote more healthy foods and exercise in their child orientated advertising. Twelve months ago, Kraft Foods promised to curb ads, aimed at children, for snack foods, including Oreos and Kool-Aid.