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The Associated Press reports that a coalition of food companies, including General Mills, ConAgra Foods and Kellogg, is proposing new advertising standards that will result in a further reduction in advertising of so-called “unhealthy foods” to children.

According to the story, “The new standards, which will allow companies to advertise food and beverage products to children if they meet certain nutritional criteria, could force some brands to change recipes to include less sodium, fat, sugars and calories. While many companies have trumpeted their own efforts to market healthier foods to kids, the agreement would apply the same standards to all of the participating companies.”

The move is seen as an effort to avert the imposition of mandated guidelines by the federal government.

There are differences between the proposed government standards and what the companies believe is acceptable.

The AP writes: “The industry guidelines for children's cereals, for example, would allow them to be advertised if they have around 10 grams of sugar a serving, while the formula used by the government would discourage advertising for cereals that have 8 grams of sugars in an equivalent serving. That would mean General Mills would still be able to advertise Honey Nut Cheerios cereal under the industry guidelines but would be discouraged under the voluntary government guidelines. Other sugary cereals such as Trix, Lucky Charms and Count Chocula would also make the cut under the industry numbers.”

The proposed government rules also include packaging, while the industry’s standards do not.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), not surprisingly, lauded the announcement, calling it a “groundbreaking agreement to update and strengthen the CFBAI initiative with the adoption of uniform nutrition criteria for foods advertised to children.”
KC's View:
Here’s where the whole thing falls apart for me.

Trix, Lucky Charms and Count Chocula “make the cut” as cereals appropriate for kids, under the CPG companies’ plan. I’m a little skeptical of any plan with this sort of rating system.

That said, who the hell else would you market these cereals to?