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Will junk food ads walk the plank?

Janet Babin Jul 18, 2007


Lisa Napoli: The Federal Trade Commission holds a hearing today about marketing junk food to kids. The agency might consider regulating food ads.

Instead, 11 food and drink makers are taking steps to keep that from happening. From North Carolina Public Radio, Marketplace’s Janet Babin reports.

Janet Babin: An all-time favorite kid cereal — still beloved by many adults — is Cap’n Crunch.

General Mills even has a Website that features interactive games with the chunky captain:

Cap’n Crunch Voice: Ready… Crunch-i-tize!

But under the new self-imposed industry rules, the captain’s Website would be shuttered. Other companies, like Pepsico, have pledged to stop using characters in ads unless they’re touting a healthy product. McDonald’s plans to only promote Happy Meals that weigh in under 600 calories.

But advertising critic Jean Kilbourne says arbitrary controls don’t go far enough.

Jean Kilbourne: What the government needs is uniform guidelines and oversight from a government agency that has real authority. And that’s difficult to do when industries give so much money to politicians.

The FTC today will survey 44 food and drink companies about their advertising practices. I’m Janet Babin for Marketplace.

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