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National Restaurant Association - Federal agencies propose new principles for marketing food to children and teens

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Federal agencies propose new principles for marketing food to children and teens

--What: The Federal Trade Commission last week issued "preliminary proposed nutrition principles" that outline strict new voluntary standards for how companies market food to children ages 2 to 17. The principles are the product of an interagency working group that included representatives from FTC, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Drug Administration, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Congress mandated the report in the 2009 omnibus appropriations bill; Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and former Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) led the effort for a report.

--Quick summary: The Working  Group's April 28 report says federal agencies still consider a voluntary approach by food companies and restaurants preferable to government restrictions on how companies market their food and beverages to children and teens. But the agencies said they want to encourage a "substantial expansion" of food companies' current self-regulatory programs. The Working Group recommends that the food industry make significant improvements in the nutritional quality of foods marketed to children and adolescents ages 2 to 17. By the year 2016, all food products within the categories most heavily marketed directly to children (such as breakfast cereals, carbonated beverages, restaurant foods and snack foods) should meet two basic nutritional principles, the group recommends. Such foods should be formulated to: (A) make a meaningful contribution to a healthful diet; and (B) minimize consumption of foods with significant amounts of nutrients that could have a negative impact on health or weight -- specifically, sodium, saturated fat, trans fat and added sugars. The Working Group has proposed 10 years for companies to hit the proposed sodium targets. The Working Group's proposed definition of marketing to children is broadly defined to encompass virtually all kinds of promotional activities directed to youth.  It incorporates 20 categories of advertising, marketing and promotional activities. Read the FTC press release and proposal http://1.usa.gov/mNdkIt

--Next steps: Comments on FTC recommendations are due June 13. The National Restaurant Association is analyzing the details now, will request additional time for comment and send out further details, and is convening an industry group to help compile comments.

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