Wednesday, December 23, 2009
In 2007, major food companies sensing impending regulation over the marketing of unhealthy foods to children announced a grand self-regulatory scheme that would be sure to quiet critics. Several companies came together with the help of the Better Business Bureau to create the Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI). Under this initiative, transnational corporations (including Coca-Cola, McDonald's and General Mills) promised to stop marketing foods of poor nutrition value to children in the US.
However, two recently released reports conclusively demonstrated that the food industry's voluntary efforts have failed to significantly improve the nutritional quality of foods marketed to children. Children Now commissioned a report that found that nearly 3 out of 4 (72.5%) of the foods advertised on TV for children are for products in the Department of Health and Human Services' poorest nutritional category.
Furthermore, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) issued a similar report that despite utilizing different methods came to a comparable conclusion. CSPI found that products that companies identify as appropriate to market to children (approved products) met
each company's own standards. However, the majority (59%) of approved products did not meet a single, third‐party nutrition standard.
Even worse, some corporations really stood apart from the rest with the largest proportions of products approved by the company for marketing to children that did not meet CSPI's recommended nutrition standards. The worst offenders: PepsiCo (100% of products did not meet third party standards), Kraft (90%), and McDonald’s (88%). You mean McDonald's markets junk food to children? Who knew?
Corporate Accountability International have worked against abusive industries for years and we've certainly witnessed a plethora of voluntary initiatives that promise to rectify social concerns. It's strange though, we've never witnessed a single self-regulatory scheme actually work. Let's chalk up another defeat. Unfortunately, it's our children that pay the price for defeat with their health.
For those who were skeptical, SELF REGULATION DOES NOT WORK! The only accomplishment of self-regulation is to provide the industry cover while they stall any meaningful reforms that might actually benefit the health and well-being of our children. I'm hopeful that the release of these reports will serve as an alarm for those who have put their faith in an industry that has an inherent conflict of interest and should not be trusted to protect our children from their dangerous marketing practices.