Kellogg Makes A Sweet Change

Known for flagship brands like Sugar Frosted Flakes (yes, "theeeeeeey’re Great!"), the company says it will no longer promote foods in the media to audiences in which the majority of viewers are under 12 unless the specific products meet a wide range of new standards. These include caps on the number calories, amount of sugar and sodium an item can contain.

At first glance, the new amounts are definitely a move in the right direction. For instance, sugar will be limited to about a maximum of 35% of the product’s total content. That may still seem outrageously high, but considering some cereals (and not necessarily only Kellogg brands) push 50% total sugar, this is a substantial improvement.

The company plans to actually reformulate many of its products as well, so they will meet the new nutrition levels. According to news reports, the plan should be in effect by the end of 2008, and the new standards will affect about half of the company’s products that are marketed to children.

But what’s even more interesting is the food company’s determination to change the way they advertise their products to children. For instance, reporter Barrie McKenna from Washington writes in Toronto’s Globe and Mail that the company has also, "vowed to stop using cartoon characters, such as Shrek or Tony the Tiger, for products that fall short of the new standard."

Other changes cited in a report from the Canadian Press on June 14, 2007 include ceasing advertising any foods in schools and preschools that have children under the age of 12, no more sponsor placement of any of its products in any medium primarily directed at children under 12, and no licensed characters in ads or on the fronts of food packages unless they meet the new nutrition guidelines (although, according this report, it appears this will exempt Kellogg owned characters, like Tony the Tiger).

In October 2006, the Federal Trade Commission announced the government might soon require food manufacturers to reveal the amount of marketing dollars they spend promoting their products to children and adolescents. The decision was spurred by a report from the Institute of Medicine in December 2005 [link: ]] that indicates marketing practices of food and beverage companies were "out of balance with recommended healthful diets." The FTC has requested input from various stakeholders and has been met with a supportive response, including the American Medical Association.

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