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?

Comments

  • Anthro
  • October 28, 2009
  • 10:04 am

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.

Social comments and analytics for this post…

This post was mentioned on Twitter by Andrea Cloninger: RT @marionnestle San Francisco takes on Cocoa Krispies!: Now that Smart Choices program is on hold, time to take .. http://cli.gs/WvM7e

[...] a more recent post, Nestle reports that the San Francisco Attorney General just sent a warning letter to [...]

[...] > Kellogg’s tip thanks to FoodPolitics.com! [...]

  • dogear6
  • October 28, 2009
  • 5:09 pm

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
  • October 28, 2009
  • 8:28 pm

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.

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?

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.

[...] This dramatic turn around and the resulting negative press will surely make manufacturers and retailers take pause before they next try to tell the consumer what is good or bad for them.  The next frontier will be front of label claims such as ¨increses immunity¨ etc.  see Marion Nestle article here [...]

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.

[...] The food community is riding high after their recent victory over the Smart Choices food label rating systemand turning their attention to front of package marketing claims as their next target – see marion nestles article on Cocao Krispies and ¨immunicty¨claim h ere. [...]

[...] the immunity claim, has also been sent to FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg. As Marion Nestle points out in her excellent Food Politic blog “Shouldn’t the FDA be taking this [...]

breakfast foods should always be high in carbohydrates to provide the energy you need in the mornign ~

breakfast foods should always be high in protein and also in carbohydrates, we need food energy during the early morning .’`

-”: I am really thankful to this topic because it really gives useful information ;,.

[...] the immunity claim, has also been sent to FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg. As Marion Nestle points out in her excellent Food Politic blog “Shouldn’t the FDA be taking this [...]

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