by Marion Nestle
Jul 22 2010

Kellogg’s drops health claims from cereal boxes (sort of)

Kellogg announced yesterday that won’t put health claims on at least some of its cereal boxes.  According to reports, “Kellogg’s FiberPlus Antioxidants Cereals do not make health claims, but rather state the amount of fiber and antioxidants on the front of pack [my emphasis].”

FibrePlus Antioxidant brand is formulated to deliver 35 to 40 percent of a consumer’s daily fiber (depending on variety) along with antioxidant vitamins C and E.

Take a look at the packages.

According to FDA regulations, describing the level of antioxidant nutrients present in a food is a nutrient content claim, not a health claim.  Even so, such claims are only allowed if the nutrients have an established Reference Daily Intake.  Antioxidant vitamins C and E do have RDIs, so this must mean that what Kellogg is doing is OK.

OK, so labeling the package with antioxidants, fiber, and whole grains does not constitite a health claim.  Kellogg is not pretending that these things actually DO anything special for health.

It doesn’t have to.  By this time, everyone knows that these nutrients are the ones you are supposed to be eating.  Does an implied health claim differ from an  overt health claim?  You  have to decide this for yourself.

Do not expect the FDA to help.  As I discussed a couple of days ago, these kinds of things cannot be an FDA priority—unless Congress decides they should be.

  • The entire package is one big health claim:

    Fiber. check
    Antioxidant. check
    Berry. 2 kinds. double check.
    Yogurt. check

    Who needs anything else?
    Shame on Kellogg’s for creating this 82 ingredient cereal monstrosity.

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  • The expanded order against Kellogg by the FTC bars them from making “any representation, in any manner, expressly or by
    implication, including through the use of a trade name or endorsement, about:…any other health benefit of such product” unless backed by scientific evidence. The expanded order’s use of the words “any other health benefit” indicates that it applies to statements beyond those defined as “health” or “nutrient claims” by the FDA. And they do make statements re health benefits of anti-oxidants on their fiber plus website (which should be covered under the FTC order as internet advertising): “Antioxidants are vitamins, minerals and other compounds in food that protect body cells from unstable molecules called free radicals. Different types of antioxidants help protect against heart disease, cancer and other chronic diseases. Kellogg’s FiberPlus™ bars contain antioxidants vitamin E and zinc, and Kellogg’s FiberPlus™ cereals offer antioxidant vitamins C and E” ( If they are once again in violation of the FTC order seems like it’s time for big financial penalties.

  • The FTC order applies to all Kellogg products, brands, trademarks, etc. For those interested, according to its SEC filing Kellogg brands and trademarks include some products you may not have been aware of:
    Kashi and GoLean for certain cereals,
    nutrition bars, and mixes; TLC for granola and cereal
    bars, crackers and cookies;Vector for
    meal replacement products; Bear Naked for granola
    cereal, bars and trail mix and Morningstar Farms,
    Loma Linda, Natural Touch, Gardenburger and
    Worthington for certain meat and egg alternatives.
    Carr’s cracker and cookie line in the United States.

  • Bobby

    They could at least have spelled fibre correctly.

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  • Max

    It’s sad the many of buying public would think that health/nutrient content claims on these products is contributing to their well being. The extra anti-oxdants added would be needed by the body just to handle the digestion of the highly processed, additive and sugar laden foods.

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  • Let’s face it, the vast majority of consumers will read the label and automatically think they are buying something healthy! Why doesn’t the FDA survey 100 people and ask them what their first impression of the product is just by looking at it? I bet 99 of them would think it is a health product.

    This is another case of a ‘household brand’ deceiving consumers in order to promote their products.

    The Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code over here has fairly stringent regulations when it comes to food labels and what producers put on the labels, i.e. Reduced fat, lower fat, less fat, lite, light, no added sugar and natural.

    However, there are still ‘loopholes’ where food manufacturers are able to deceive consumers.

    For example, when it comes to low-fat alternatives food manufacturers can simply replace the fat with sugar in order to maintain the taste and palatability of the food. Therefore, someone who is making an effort to eat less fat and less overall calories (kilojoules) and who chooses low-fat alternatives, could be actually be consuming more sugar and possibly more calories (kilojoules)!

    Hopefully, over time, governments and food regulators will make it more difficult for the food producers to deceive consumers.

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