Photo by Pierre Lascott
The Federal Trade Commission is the third agency dealing with food policies, this time advertising. As I'm fond of saying, the FTC is not exactly a consumer protection agency. Its main purpose is to make sure that businesses stay competitive. In 1978, under the leadership of Michael Pertschuk, the FTC made a valiant attempt to regulate food marketing to children. That disaster, which I have discussed in previous posts, kept the FTC from doing anything about marketing to kids--until recently.
On December 15, it is holding a forum on food marketing to children in Washington, DC. Here's the agenda and information about registration.
Guess what? A forum like this isn't necessary, says the industry-sponsored Children's Food and Beverage Initiative. We are doing just fine, it says, and we don't need regulation.
But that's not all the FTC is doing. It had so much fun trying to get information from food companies about their marketing-to-kids practices that it is trying the same thing with quick service and fast food restaurants. The FTC says it is seeking "Information from those companies concerning, among other things, their marketing activities and expenditures targeted to children and adolescents and nutritional information about the companies' food and beverage products marketed to children and adolescents." This sounds easy, if a bit confusing, but my guess is that the FTC will have to pull teeth to get it.