Kellogg Gets the Message and Changes Its Own

Kellogg agrees to stop targeting sugary foods at kids.

ByABC News
February 10, 2009, 5:40 PM

June 14, 2007— -- Snap, crackle and pop.

That sound could herald the end of advertisements touting unhealthy cereals and snacks to kids.

Kellogg Co., the world's leading maker of cereals with close to $11 billion in 2006 sales, unveiled new standards Thursday for marketing its products to children under 12.

Additionally, Kellogg will place new labels on the fronts of cereal boxes that highlight some of the nutrition information from the side panel.

Like its Pop-Tarts, Kellogg needed some heat before it was ready to rise to the challenge. Its new initiative stems from a settlement with parents from Massachusetts and two advocacy groups who had threatened to sue Kellogg for unfairly advertising to young audiences.

"The basis behind the suit was that Kellogg was marketing unhealthy food to children under the age of 8," said Susan Linn, co-founder of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, one of the advocacy groups.

"Until the age of 8, kids don't understand persuasive intent, the fundamental basis of marketing, so the thought was that it was unfair to market to them."

The terms of the settlement are twofold.

First, the company agreed to create a set of standards it dubs Kellogg Global Nutrient Criteria." These criteria will apply to nearly all the food it sells worldwide, including Keebler snacks, Cheez-Its and food under the Morningstar Farms label.

The criteria restrict the number of calories per serving of a Kellogg's food to 200 calories or less, with fewer than 2 grams of saturated fat, 12 grams of sugar and 230 milligrams of sodium.

Food that does not meet these conditions -- such as the current versions of Froot Loops and Pop-Tarts -- will be either reformulated or no longer marketed to children under 12 by the end of next year.

Kellogg acknowledged that almost half of the food it currently advertises to kids does not meet these standards.

Responding to these criteria, Dr. David Katz at the Yale University School of Medicine said, "A number of those are very reasonable, but they only tell us what's going to be capped --