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Advertising Age reports that the Center For Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is holding off on a planned lawsuit that would have charged the US soft drink industry with deceptively marketing its products to children and contributing to the nation’s child obesity crisis.

The reason – CSPI says it has been in negotiations with both PepsiCo and the Coca-Cola Co., and wants to give the talks more time to play out before going ahead with the litigation.

A spokesman for the American Beverage Association (ABA) disagreed with CSPI’s characterization of the talks, however. ABA’s Kevin Keene said that CSPI has been negotiating with it and not with individual companies, and said that to call them “negotiations” would be to overstate the issue.

Ironically, this announcement comes as CSPI announced its intention to sue Kellogg Co. to prevent it from advertising its child-oriented cereals on Viacom’s Nickelodeon cable television network. CSPI wants companies to be prevented from marketing “junk food” – products that the organization says are loaded with sugar and devoid of nutrients - in media venues where 15 percent of the audience is under the age of eight. The suit actually would not just stop Kellogg’s from advertising on Nickelodeon, but also would prevent the cable company from licensing its animated characters, such as SpongeBob SquarePants, to the cereal company for use on its packaging.

CSPI is being joined in that suit by a Boston-based organization called Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. Both suits are to be filed in Massachusetts because that state has what are called “aggressive” consumer protection laws.
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