by Marion Nestle
Jul 13 2010

Whatever happened to the FTC’s nutrition standards for food marketing?

I keep hearing rumors that food industry opposition is what is holding up release of the FTC’s position paper on nutrition standards for marketing foods to kids.

I titled my previous post on this report “Standards for marketing foods to kids: tentative, proposed, weak,” because I thought they left far too much wiggle room for companies to market products that I would not exactly call health foods.

Now, Melanie Warner points out that even so, the proposed standards will exclude a great many highly profitable food products.  Hence: food company opposition.

Susan Linn of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood quotes an executive of the food industry’s Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative: “There are very few products, period, that meet these standards, whether they’re primarily consumed by adults or children.”

The food industry has consistently opposed giving the FTC more authority over marketing of foods and supplements.  Here is another reason why this agency needs it.

Update, July 24: The missing FTC report is front-page news!  William Neuman is on the front page of the New York Times with a detailed account of the Federal Trade Commission’s lack of action on food company advertising practices.  The FTC standards were expected last week but nobody seems to know when, if ever, they will be released.

Update, July 30: Here is Colbert’s take on the delaying of FTC standards.


[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by nyusteinhardt. nyusteinhardt said: Whatever happened to the FTC’s nutrition standards for food marketing? [...]

Marion, thanks for posting this. In April, the Food Marketing Workgroup asked the FTC publish the draft standards in the Federal Register so that advocates, researchers, industry, and other interested
parties can comment on them. We need strong, science-based marketing standards for food marketed to kids — and a robust *public* conversation about them, which we can’t have until the draft is published.

[...] in Business, Daily life, Food, Government, Law, Obama administration at 9:18 am by LeisureGuy Marion Nestle: I keep hearing rumors that food industry opposition is what is holding up release of the FTC’s [...]

  • Marina
  • July 15, 2010
  • 11:46 am

Hi Marion,

I am a communication professional working to help spread the word about a grass-roots campaign aimed at educating the public about an important mislabeling issue with Choice, Ocean Spray’s sweetened dried cranberry product. Choice is marketed as a healthy food product even though it is mostly sugar—according to Ocean Spray’s own product literature, sugar contents can go as high as 80%.

On November 19, 2009, the National Consumer League filed a petition with the FDA requesting that the FDA investigate the misleading labeling with Choice – here’s the link . This action went unnoticed by Ocean Spray, which continues to market the Choice product, now in select national retailers, as a wholesome cranberry product.

With our educational campaign,, we are hoping to educate the public about this mislabeling issue and influence Ocean Spray to re-label their product.

We thank you for your support in spreading the word:

You can find us:
Online at


[...] déjenme preguntar una vez más: ¿dónde está el largamente esperado informe de la FTC sobre las normas de nutrición en la [...]

[...] called "weak." But even this step proved too much for industry. Then we waited for the next round. And waited. (During this time, I attended meetings with FTC's Mary Engle, who took pains to explain that [...]

[...] The FTC is now 12 months late for the public comment period (which was making news even in July) and 6 months late for the report to Congress. What gives? (Hint: Food industry foot-dragging.) [...]

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