Kellogg to Pull Misleading Health Claims on Children's Cereals

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Jun 4 2010 - 11:11am

The Kellogg Company has agreed to advertising restrictions set by the Federal Trade Commission in regards to its misleading health claims on a popular children’s cereal. The company will no longer be able to market Rice Krispies as being able to “support your child’s immunity.”

Consumers are influenced more by the front label packaging of a food product than the “Nutrition Facts” label or the ingredients label. Perception influences decisions about purchase. Food manufacturers use this to their advantage to encourage the purchase of their products. Kellogg’s Co. is one of the companies that has recently used this technique for children’s cereals.

Read: Nestle Receives 2 Warnings on Kids Beverages

Last summer, Kellogg introduced product packaging claiming that Rice Krispies “now helps support your child’s immunity” and that the cereal has been improved to include “25% Daily Value of Antioxidants and Nutrients – Vitamins A, B, C, and E.” The claim was withdrawn from packaging in November 2009 during the height of the swine flu pandemic.

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Kellogg has also reached a settlement regarding the claim last July that Frosted Mini-Wheats was “clinically shown to improve kid’s attentiveness by nearly 20%.”

Under the new advertising restrictions, the company is agreeing to not make claims about “any health benefit of any food unless the claims are backed by scientific evidence and not misleading.”

“We expect more from a great American company than making dubious claims — not once, but twice — that its cereals improve children’s health,” said Jon Leibowitz, FTC chairman in a statement on Thursday. “Next time, Kellogg needs to stop and think twice about the claims it’s making…so parents can make the best choices for their children.”

Read: Choose a Healthy Cereal, Some Have More Sugar than Should

Food nutrient claims are governed by the Food and Drug Administration’s “Guidance for Industry: A Food Labeling Guide” issued in 2008. A health claim is defined as a “claim made on the label or in labeling of a food… that expressly or by implication… characterizes the relationship of any substance to a disease or health-related condition.” Truthful, non-misleading dietary guidance statements can be used, but claims that a food can treat or cure a disease are not allowed.

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