by Marion Nestle
Oct 28 2009

San Francisco takes on Cocoa Krispies!

Now that the Smart Choices program is on hold, it’s time to take a look at what else is on food packages these days.  My current favorite example is the huge IMMUNITY banner across Kellogg’s Cocoa Krispies.

ImmunityI don’t know how you interpret this but my mind boggles at the very idea that eating Cocoa Krispies might protect kids against swine flu.

Apparently, the minds of the San Francisco attorney general’s staff are equally boggled.  They just sent a warning letter to Kellog:

“Specifically, the Immunity Claims may falsely suggest to parents that cereals like Cocoa Krispies are more healthy for their children than other breakfast foods that are not high in sugar and not highly processed.  The Immunity Claims  may also mislead parents into believing that serving this sugary cereal will actually boost their child’s immunity, leaving parents less likely to take more productive steps to protect their children’s health.”

The city attorneys are asking Kellogg to provide copies of all of the consumer and scientific research the company used to establish this claim, or else.  If they don’t get these documents, they will “seek an immediate termination or modification of the advertising claim….”

Good idea.  I can’t wait to see how Kellogg’s – ever at the leading edge of advertising claims – will respond.

But wait!  Shouldn’t the FDA be taking this on?

  • Anthro

    Good grief–the word “immunity” is nearly as large as the name of the cereal. The FDA has got to put a stop to the phrase “supports the …..”. What is that supposed to mean anyway? What is “support”?

    Any vitamins present in Cocoa Puffs are added, I believe, and the cereal itself is devoid of nutrition, so the whole thing is deceptive.

    What’s really alarming is that in our culture, anything seems to be acceptable to make a profit. I do not own stocks for this reason. Even “socially responsible” investments include food companies that I cannot support.

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  • dogear6

    I feel sorry for women who do not know better, whether due to lack of education or even lack of experience in feeding their families. It is really a minefield of problems trying to navigate these labels.

  • kock

    People, The FDA has no control over the box art. Sue them for false advertising if you have to and MOVE ON! How much of its custonmer base can even read ‘immunity’. Its up to parents to use their brains.

  • http://www.hellishholidays.com Laura Cohen

    Oh, I just assumed it meant immunity from prosecution. It obviously has nothing to do with good health. They don’t really think we’re that dumb, do they?

  • http://www.yumyucky.com Yum Yucky

    I don’t know about you, but anything I ingest with mountains of sugar LOWERS immunity. Happens every time I get real greedy.

    I’m surprised the FDA isn’t attacking, especially the way they harassed Cheerios over the “lower cholesterol” claims.

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  • http://www.inoculatedmind.com Inoculated Mind

    This claim isn’t any different from the claims made on food supplement packages. “Supports your immunity” is a vacuous statement that makes no actual claims about what it really does. The difference, though, is this is a sugary cereal versus a bottle of pills sold at Whole Foods. But I don’t see a difference – all wishy-washy statements with no evidence to back up any real claims.

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