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“Self-Regulation is Working” head of BBB Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative to tell Congress

10/11/2011

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Washington, D.C. – The food and beverage industry has done a good job regulating itself when it comes to advertising aimed at children, and is continuing to formulate changes that make “voluntary government restrictions” unnecessary, according to Elaine D. Kolish, Vice President of the Council of Better Business Bureaus and Director of the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI). Kolish will testify tomorrow at a joint hearing of the House Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade and the Subcommittee on Health.

“CFBAI is changing the landscape of child-directed food advertising in observable and meaningful ways,” says Kolish. “Our participants are committed to combating childhood obesity by restricting their child-directed advertising to healthier foods…or not engaging in such advertising at all.”

Kolish’s written testimony notes that the industry has voluntarily shifted the emphasis of their advertising to children to foods “that are substantially lower in total calories, lower in fats, salt, and added sugars, and higher in nutrient content,” which follows recommendations made by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in 2006.

“CFBAI’s new category-specific uniform nutrition criteria will further improve the foods in child-directed advertising and make self regulation work even better,” Kolish will tell the subcommittees. The new criteria build on the successes of company-specific criteria, but with additional advantages. “The new criteria will require the participants to change almost one third of the products they currently advertise to children ─ products that already meet meaningful nutrition standards ─ if they wish to continue advertising them after these criteria go into effect on December 31, 2013.”

Kolish says that the proposal by the Interagency Working Group on Food Marketed to Children (IWG) is not realistic or workable, because it also includes advertising to parents and families. Moreover, suggested nutritional criteria in the IWG proposal underestimate technological and consumer acceptance barriers to changing popular products and developing new ones. The CFBAI’s new criteria, in contrast, “provide a rigorous, yet realistic, roadmap for future improvements,” Kolish said.

CFBAI’s new criteria are also well within the scope of what the IWG was seeking as an alternative to its own proposal. The CFBAI’s new criteria are based on, or closely aligned with, regulations defining “healthy” products and “disclosure” levels, as the IWG suggested. They also are informed by IOM’s recommendations for school meals and foods sold in schools.

“We’re delighted that the IWG intends to take CFBAI’s new criteria into account in its report to Congress, because the criteria continue the positive work of responsible companies in the fight against childhood obesity,” said Kolish.

About the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB)

As the leader in advancing marketplace trust, BBB is an unbiased non-profit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Every year, more than 87 million consumers rely on BBB Business Reviews® and BBB Wise Giving Reports® to help them find trustworthy businesses and charities across North America. The CBBB is the network hub for 116 BBBs in the United States and Canada. CBBB also is one of the nation's recognized leaders in developing and administering self-regulation programs for the business community.

For a copy of Kolish’s testimony: http://republicans.energycommerce.house.gov/Media/file/Hearings/Joint/101211_CMT_Health/Kolish.pdf

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