Congress Delays Setting Nutrition Standards for Kids—Again

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New language inserted into the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2012 will delay or even kill the standards, which are already watered down

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It's hard to believe how thoroughly Congress is in bed with the food industry but here is another example: The House has just inserted language in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2012 requiring the Federal Trade Commission's Interagency Working Group (IWG) on Food Marketed to Children to conduct a cost/benefit analysis of the final recommendations in its report.

This, of course, will delay or even kill the IWG's recommendations for voluntary nutrition standards for marketing foods to kids (see previous posts).

Get this: Section 626 of the Act says:

None of the funds made available in this Act may be used by the Federal Trade Commission to complete the draft report entitled "Interagency Working Group on Food Marketed to Children: Preliminary Proposed Nutrition Principles to Guide Industry Self-Regulatory Efforts" unless the Interagency Working Group on Food Marketed to Children complies with Executive Order 13563.

And what, pray tell, is Executive Order 13563?  Agencies may:

  • Propose or adopt a regulation only upon a reasoned determination that its benefits justify its costs.
  • Tailor its regulations to impose the least burden on society.
  • Select, in choosing among alternative regulatory approaches, those approaches that maximize net benefits.
  • To the extent feasible, specify performance objectives.
  • Identify and assess available alternatives to direct regulation.

Recall that the industry spent a reported $37 million to oppose the IWG recommendations. Apparently, it was money well spent.

Let's hope the Senate has sense enough to delete this section so that the FTC can put its long-delayed and already watered-down standards in place.

Image: blessings/Shutterstock.

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This post also appears on Food Politics, an Atlantic partner site.

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Marion Nestle is a professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University. She is the author of Food Politics, Safe Food, What to Eat, and Pet Food Politics. More

Nestle also holds appointments as Professor of Sociology at NYU and Visiting Professor of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell. She is the author of three prize-winning books: Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health (revised edition, 2007), Safe Food: The Politics of Food Safety (2003), and What to Eat (2006). Her most recent book is Feed Your Pet Right: The Authoritative Guide to Feeding Your Dog and Cat. She writes the Food Matters column for The San Francisco Chronicle and blogs almost daily at Food Politics.

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