The Kellogg Company, the world’s leading cereal producer, has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that a national advertising campaign claiming that a breakfast of Frosted Mini-Wheats was “clinically shown to improve kids’ attentiveness by nearly 20% ” were false and violated federal law. The proposed settlement bars deceptive or misleading health claims for Kellogg’s breakfast and snack foods and bars the company from misrepresenting any tests or studies. There was no admission of wrongdoing or financial penalty according to the FTC news release April 20, 2009. Dr Stephen Barrett in his Consumer Health Digest, states that Kellogg’s 9007 sales exceeded $11 billion. Dr. Barrett’s free newsletter is sponsored by Quackwatch and The National Council Against Health Fraud.
In a letter to the FTC Dr. Michele Simon, Director, Center for Informed Food Choices (CIFC) summarizes beautifully some of the outstanding issues on false health claims in food marketing for kids and names several examples. Nutrition experts agree these health claims boil down to nothing more than marketing gimmicks to increase sales by health-conscious parents. Marion Nestle, a Professor of Nutrition at NYU is more blunt: “Food companies are desperate for sales and growth and if they can use ‘health’ to sell junk food, they will,” she said. That goes for foods for grown-ups too.