The Federal Trade Commission has finally released rules about how foods can (and can't) be marketed to children—but some questions remain
The FTC released its long-awaited principles for food marketing to children yesterday. These are proposed principles, scheduled to apply to marketing to children ages two to 17, to go into effect by 2016. The principles are now open for comment.
- whole grain
- fat-free or low-fat (1-percent) milk products
- extra lean meat or poultry
- nuts and seeds
- Saturated Fat: 1 g or less per serving and 15 percent or less of calories
- Trans Fat: 0 g per serving
- Added Sugars: No more than 13 g of added sugars per serving
- Sodium: No more than 210 mg per serving
Recall the history: In 2009, Congress specified that an interagency group was to set up standards for identifying foods that should not be marketed to children and to publish them by July 15, 2010. That group came up with a set of recommendations similar to these but more complicated.
What are we to make of this? In the light of this history, the FTC must be congratulated for its courage in overcoming food industry opposition. The principles are supposed to apply to all forms of media, print and electronic. If so, the food industry will have a much harder time marketing foods to kids. That's great news.
- The principles are voluntary. Nobody has to follow them.
- Who is going to hold food companies accountable for following the guidelines?
- Why do food companies get until 2016 to implement them? Five years?
Can't we do any better? Of course, given my druthers, food companies would not be allowed to market directly to children at all.