Posts Tagged ‘advertising regulation’

Who Should Define ‘Natural’ Food?

The natural products business is booming. By some industry estimates, retail sales topped an eye-popping $100 billion last year, with nearly 60 percent coming from food. No wonder more food marketers are labeling their products — from Pepsi to Cheetos — natural. But what does the term actually mean?

Despite the term’s popularity — or because of it — there is no official definition of “natural.” With the potential to deceive consumers, the issue is now reaching a breaking point. The proposed solutions from trade groups, lawyers and government agencies range from defining the term to suing over it to ignoring it. Some consumer-advocacy organizations are even calling for a complete ban on the use of “natural” in labeling. But such disparate approaches won’t help shoppers become any less confused and may even make the problem worse.

Read rest at Al Jazeera America ….

USDA’s Proposal on Food Marketing in Schools Could Harm Children

Today, on behalf of Corporate Accountability International and in collaboration with the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, I submitted the following comments to the U.S. Department of Agriculture regarding its proposal to require schools to only allow marketing for those foods allowed under the agency’s “Smart Snacks” nutrition guidelines. (See also the excellent comments submitted by Public Health Advocacy Institute on junk food products created for schools.)

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Big Food defies first lady with own nutrition label

Last week, with an assist from first lady Michelle Obama, the Food and Drug Administration announced a set of proposed improvements — the first in 20 years — to the nutrition facts label found on most food packages. Read rest at Al Jazeera America …

Holding Big Food Accountable for False Claims of Responsible Marketing to Children

by Michele Simon and Cara Wilking

Looking back at 2013, while the food movement made progress in certain areas (such as school food and GMO labeling), when it comes to exploitative food marketing to children meaningful change remains elusive. Let’s Move director and White House chef Sam Kass recently acknowledged the obvious when he said this issue was “really tough” given how much money is at stake for industry.

All we seem to hear from the major food corporations about marketing to children are self-serving promises and announcements of future changes. As public health lawyers, that got us wondering, who’s making sure even these minimal commitments are being kept? The question is worth exploring if we want to actually improve children’s diets—not just create positive PR buzz for Big Food. With reports of adults ever-deteriorating eating habits in 2013 coupled with appalling teen heart health, the health stakes are too high to just wait for the food industry to do the right thing.

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Is the End of “Natural” Labeling Near?

This article of mine originally appeared in print in Functional Ingredients magazine and is available online for registered users at New Hope here. See other posts on this subject here and here.

Last year in this space I asked if it was time for the Food and Drug Administration to define how food makers can and cannot make “natural” claims on their labels. With Americans looking for healthier options, more food companies are jumping on the natural bandwagon, despite many overly processed products being anything but.

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Industry Lawyers Tell Big Food How Not to Get Sued

Last week I attended a conference in Washington DC with the lofty title: “3rd Advanced Regulatory and Compliance Summit on Food & Beverage Marketing & Advertising.” The event’s main sponsor was the law firm of Faegre Baker Daniels, whose numerous mega-corporate food clients include Cargill, Dean Foods, and Nestlé. In addition, the firm represents (under the heading of “crop protection“) Big Biotech players such as Bayer, Dow, and DuPont. The presenters were almost all industry lawyers, with a few government types. Not one member of the plaintiffs bar or anyone from a public interest organization was a speaker, and it seemed most of the audience was also from industry.

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How to Stop Deceptive Food Marketers? Take Them to Court

Last week, Monster Beverage filed an unusual lawsuit against the San Francisco City Attorney’s office to stop an attempt to place restrictions on the company’s highly caffeinated and potentially harmful products aimed at youth. This aggressive move is a form of backlash against using the legal system to hold the food and beverage industry’s accountable for deceptive marketing practices.
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Retailer Just Says No to Exploiting Children

MOM's Organic Market bans products targeting children

Sign at Mom’s Organic Market

As the frequent bearer of bad news about the food industry, I am thrilled to share a positive story. Last month, MOM’s Organic Market, a small retail chain based in the Baltimore area, announced it would stop carrying products featuring children’s cartoon characters:

Products ranging from Dora the Explorer frozen soybeans to Elmo juice boxes will be discontinued and replaced with organic alternatives in cartoon-free packaging.

Company CEO Scott Nash blogged last August about how his young daughter begged for a cereal she never tasted because of “Clifford the Big Red Dog” on the box, putting the store’s policy into motion. The company sent me this list of discontinued items, which includes numerous Earth’s Best products, along with a few other natural food companies.

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Feds to Parents: Big Food Still Exploiting Your Children, Good Luck with That

If you wanted to ensure a report gets buried, a good time to release it would be the Friday before a holiday week. That the Federal Trade Commission released its latest report on marketing to children then speaks volumes about how seriously the Obama Administration is taking this intractable problem.

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Is Big Food Playing Games with Data Reported to Feds on Marketing to Children? A Q&A with ex-industry insider Bruce Bradley

Last week the Federal Trade Commission released its follow-up report on how the food industry markets to children. The media spin is mostly about reduced expenditures, which could be good thing. But is it for real? I asked Bruce Bradley, who worked for fifteen years as a marketer at companies like General Mills, Pillsbury, and Nabisco. He has a different interpretation of what’s going on.

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