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IWG Issues Principles for Marketing Food to Children and Adolescents

Date: Apr 29, 2011

On April 28, 2011, the Interagency Working Group (IWG), comprised of representatives from four federal agencies – the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) – released its much anticipated report, Preliminary Proposed Nutrition Principles to Guide Industry Self-Regulatory Efforts ("Principles"), for marketing foods to children 2 – 11 and teens 12 – 17. The proposed standards remain voluntary and are not intended to serve as rules. The IWG solicits comments on over 30 detailed questions about the proposed nutrition and marketing criteria, including whether they apply to teen-directed marketing in a more limited way (i.e., only in schools and social media). The Principles are available on the FTC's website at: http://ftc.gov/os/2011/04/110428foodmarketproposedguide.pdf

The proposed recommendations are very similar to the initial version released in December, 2009. They are designed to encourage children, through two advertising and marketing principles, to choose foods that make a meaningful contribution to a healthful diet ("Principle A") and minimize consumption of foods with significant amounts of nutrients that could have a negative impact on health or weight ("Principle B").

Principle A recommends that certain limits of fruit, vegetables, grains, milk (fat-free or low-fat), nuts, and extra lean meat or poultry, among others, be contained in all food marketed to children and adolescents. Principle B provides content limits for saturated fats, trans fats, added sugars and sodium.

The Principles propose to follow the marketing definitions set out in the FTC's 2008 Report to Congress, Marketing Food to Children and Adolescents. The IWG is seeking public comment on both the nutrition standards and the definitions of marketing targeted to children and adolescents. It requests information on the initial recommendation that the guidelines should apply only to teen marketing in schools and via social media, and asks for input on studies addressing the impact of social media marketing as compared to traditional advertising. The IWG also solicits comments on the impact of full adoption by industry on television programming and other media, antitrust implications of voluntary industry adherence to advertising limits, and First Amendment implications. Comments are due June 13, 2011; a public workshop will be held May 24.

For more information on the IWG's report on food and beverage advertising or on youth advertising or privacy, contact Sheila A. Millar at 202 434-4143 or via e-mail at millar@khlaw.com, or Tracy Marshall at 202 434-4234 or via e-mail at marshall@khlaw.com.