FTC urges food makers to take care with under 12 demo


In testimony before a Senate panel, FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz recommended a proactive approach from food manufactures when marketing products to children under age 12. Self regulation now, he suggested, may head off government regulation tomorrow. He made five general points, starting out with joining the Council of Better Business Bureaus Initiative to adopt high nutritional standards when marketing to children, and added that such efforts should not be limited to television and radio marketing, but should include all media used for promotional purposes.

FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz before Senate Appropriations subcommittees: “A useful first step would be to join the CBBB [Council of Better Business Bureaus] Initiative. In other words, all companies should take measures to limit their food and beverage promotions directed to children to those for healthier products.

“Second, given the integrated nature of most marketing campaigns, the Commission also recommends that these nutrition-based standards be extended beyond television, radio, print, and Internet advertising, to cover the full spectrum of marketing activities to children, including product packaging, advertising displays at the retail site, premium distribution, celebrity endorsements, and other promotional activities.

“Third, the Commission also recommends that all companies stop in-school promotion of foods and beverages that do not meet meaningful nutrition-based standards. In addition, all companies that sell ‘competitive’ food or beverage products in schools (outside of the school meal program) should join the Alliance for a Healthier Generation or otherwise adopt and adhere to meaningful nutrition-based standards for foods and beverages sold in schools, such as those recommended by the Institute of Medicine.

“Fourth, the Report contains many other specific recommendations for the food industry, which address the nutritional profile of product offerings, nutrition labeling, healthy messages, and marketing in schools.

“Finally, in light of the character licensing and extensive cross promotion of foods with films and children’s televison programs, the Report also recommends actions by media and entertainment companies. Included among these is a recommendation that media and entertainment companies should consider instituting their own self-regulatory initiative and working with the CBBB in this endeavor.”