July 28th, 2011
Senators bemoan food marketing restrictions
Nineteen senators from rural states demanded Thursday that federal agencies justify their call for stringent voluntary restrictions on marketing food marketing to children.
Four agencies — the Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Federal Trade Commission — have proposed voluntary guidelines for food companies in an effort to stem childhood obesity. Industry experts say the guidelines would curb free speech, cost jobs and do little for children’s health.
The letter to the agency heads, spearheaded by Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), requests the agencies to explain how they linked marketing to obesity. It also questions their nutritional recommendations and inquires about the economic impact to certain food sectors such as cereals, meats and cheese.
And it raises concerns with possible restrictions on the food industry’s support for “school and community philanthropic activities, including sports teams, literacy programs, and other health-promoting youth activities” and the “economic impact to schools and communities.”
“It is important that we consider and understand the impact that this proposal will have on the various sectors of the U.S. economy as well as consumers and young people,” the letter concludes. “Thus, we look forward to receiving the [Interagency Working Group’s] response to these important questions. In the interim, we ask that you withhold any further action, except for the process of analyzing comments to the proposal.”
The letter is signed by 18 Republicans and Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.).