One kid-and-food news story that slipped by me last month was an update by the Council of Better Business Bureaus on the food industry’s efforts to self-regulate the advertising of junk foods to children.
By way of background, the BBB started its Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI) in 2006 and there are currently seventeen food manufacturers participating in the effort. [Full disclosure: one of these companies was my former employer.] Under their latest pledge, companies promise to either devote 100% of their child-directed advertising to “better-for-you” foods, or to not engage in such advertising at all. (You can read the specifics here.)
BBB issued its latest report in mid-December, pronouncing the companies’ compliance in the prior year with their stated goals as “excellent,” noting, for example, that:
- 75 percent of the ads were for products that provided at least 10 percent of the Daily Value of one nutrient that is a shortfall in kids’ diets or a half-serving of a food group to encourage;
- 32 percent of the ads included at least a half-serving of vegetables or fruit such as apples or applesauce;
- 33 percent included milk or yogurt; and
- 27 percent were for products or meals that provided at least 8 grams of whole grains/50 percent whole grains.
The report also notes that 52 percent of the cereals that participants advertise to kids contain no more than 10 grams of sugar. All of these cereals contain less than 130 calories and provide many essential vitamins and minerals; many contain a half-serving of whole grains and are a good source of Vitamin D.
This all sounds really great, doesn’t it?
Now let me show you some of the “better-for-you” products which CAN be freely advertised to kids under the CFBAI:
The obvious problem, of course, is that major food manufacturers make manufactured foods, not the whole foods we’d all like to see advertised to children (if there has to be advertising at all). Even so, one has to question the nutritional criteria (which are formulated by each individual company, by the way) that would produce a photo gallery like the one above. And believe me — I could have added photos of many, many more equally hair-raising products.
For a little taste of Orwell’s 1984, check out the entire CFBAI “Better-for-You Product List.” “Better-for-you” than what, exactly?