April 29th, 2011

Advertisers Rebuke Obama Administration's Proposed Rules on Marketing Food to Kids

Ad Age

If the Obama administration gets its way, food marketers would only advertise their healthiest products to children, possibly including teenagers who have long-been exempt from such restrictions.

The rules would start in 2016 and only allow foods that contain no trans fat and not more than one gram of saturated fat and 13 grams of added sugar per ‘eating occasion’ to be marketed to children.

The long-awaited guidelines, jointly proposed today by four federal agencies, drew an immediate rebuke from the ad industry, which called the initiative “overly restrictive” and based on “limited and outdated information.”

“If companies were to comply with these proposals, the restrictions are sufficiently onerous that they would basically block a substantial amount of advertising,” Dan Jaffe, exec VP-government relations for the Association of National Advertisers, told Ad Age. “How much? We still need to find out by digging deeper and talking to our companies on a one-to-one basis.”

Indeed, today’s announcement by the Federal Trade Commission-led Interagency Working Group on Food Marketed to Children is only an opening salvo in what will be a lengthy debate between government and industry on how to solve the growing childhood obesity crisis. For one, the guidelines would not carry the weight of law and are only recommendations on how the industry should regulate itself. Secondly, the rules will likely to change as both health advocates and companies submit comments during the next 45 days.

Although not binding, whatever emerges in the final report to Congress will likely be adhered to in some fashion because the rules are put forth by a quartet of agencies that have strong sway over marketers, including the FTC, Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Department of Agriculture. “Despite calling these proposals ‘voluntary,’ the government clearly is trying to place major pressure on the food, beverage and restaurant industries on what can and cannot be advertised,” the ANA said in a statement.

Read more: http://adage.com/article/news/advertisers-rebuke-kids-food-marketing-restrictions/227281/

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