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FTC to Kellogg: Stop fake health claims

Gregory Warner Jun 4, 2010

FTC to Kellogg: Stop fake health claims

Gregory Warner Jun 4, 2010


Kai Ryssdal: You’ve probably witnessed some version of this scene in the supermarket: Child enters cereal aisle, grabs tastiest looking thing he can; parent starts saying no, child pulls box off shelf and doesn’t let go. Enter the it’s-good-for-you health claim. The cereal box that says it’ll will make your kid smarter or stronger. The advertising that sometimes pushes parents across that line from no to not no. Today, the Federal Trade Commission — for the second time — told Kellogg’s to cut it out. That they can’t say Rice Krispies boosts kids immunities.

From the Marketplace Health Desk at WHYY in Philadelphia, Gregory Warner reports.

Gregory Warner: The television ad features a very, very cute four-year-old, listening to her first bowl of Rice Krispies while we hear…

AD: Every box of Kellogg’s Rice Krispies has antioxidants and nutrients that support your child’s immune system.

This immunity claim hit the airwaves just when fear over swine flu was at its peak. It’s the second Kellogg’s ad that the FTC has tagged as misleading. The first was when the company claimed that Frosted Mini-Wheats were “clinically shown” to improve kids’ attentiveness by 20 percent. The control group in that study: kids who got a breakfast of only water.

Jennifer Pomeranz of the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity says that it’s not just Kellogg’s.

JENNIFER Pomeranz: Nestle’s Juicy Juice has an immunity claim. It also has a claim that Juicy Juice can give children brain development. These are claims that seem to be unsubstantiated.

But they make food sell better.

Pomeranz: Ironically, the more unhealthy cereals had more health claims on them, actually.

Kellogg’s said today it will drop its immunity claim from Rice Krispies ads.

Dennis Herrera is city attorney of San Francisco. He’s been pushing for greater scrutiny of food advertising. He calls the FTC announcement…

DENNIS HERRERA: A good step. It shows that the FTC is getting back to traditional role that it is the regulator.

But when it comes to health claims, the FTC is just the watchdog. Now the Food and Drug Administration is considering whether it should apply the same rules to food health claims as it does to drugs.

In Philadelphia, I’m Gregory Warner for Marketplace.

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