Ed Markey (D-MA) is Capitol Hill point man in the battle against childhood obesity, and has been recruiting food manufacturers and marketers for the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB) initiative to limit marketing of food to children under age 12 unless it meets certain nutritional standards. ConAgra and Chuck E. Cheese indicated they would sign on; Dannon, Nestle and Yum! Brands will not.
"I applaud Chuck E. Cheese and ConAgra for taking a step in the right direction. Though Dannon, Yum! Brands, and Nestle have been slow to act, I hope they have a ‘Quik’ change of heart for the sake of America’s children. At a time when our country is facing a serious childhood obesity crisis, the responses from these companies raises the question of whether voluntary industry action will be sufficient to combat this important public health issue," said Rep. Markey.
Yum!, owner of KFC and Taco Bell among other things, said in its letter that it wasn’t signing up because it targets adults and families in the US, and would "commence a dialogue with BBB" in the event it ever does decide to advertise to preteens. Dannon said it already does a number of things in this area, and hasn’t yet decided if it will sign on to the current effort. Nestle said it self-restricts and that coming into compliance would actually have the potential of limiting some of its beneficial activities, such as distributing its Healthy Steps for Healthy Lives kits to school teachers.
RBR observation: It four of five companies continue to advertise gum and candy to kids, it will put every other company in the gum and candy company at a competitive disadvantage, bringing down the whole voluntary house of cards. If the players in this don’t police themselves, it will not be long before Markey looks to put something in place with more teeth than a voluntary program.