US Inter-Agency Working Group (IWG) publishes draft nutritional standards for food marketing to children


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Through the 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act, the US Congress established an Interagency Working Group (IWG), which was mandated to develop guidelines for food and beverage advertising to children and adolescents aged 2 to 17 years. The IWG represents the following four federal agencies: Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This development followed mounting federal government and NGO pressure on food marketing to children under the Obama administration.

The Preliminary Proposed Nutrition Principles to Guide Industry Self-Regulatory Efforts published today (attached) follow a tentative proposal tabled by the IWG on 15 December 2010, which raised significant concern from an industry perspective. The Preliminary Proposed Nutrition Principles are open for public consultation until 13 June 2011.

The Principles will remain voluntary guidelines. However, the IWG proposes that industry adopt them progressively over a five year period, i.e. aiming at full implementation by 2016. Should industry not do so on a voluntary basis, political pressure is certain to follow. Needless to say, the US Principles will set a global precedent, which will be difficult for other governments to ignore.

The Council of Better Business Bureaus, which leads the Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Unit (CFBAI) (or “US Pledge Program”), is closely engaged with the Federal Agencies represented on the IWG. The proposed IWG Principles are significantly more stringent than current self-regulatory standards with respect to both nutritional criteria and the definition of marketing to children. WFA (and the EU Pledge secretariat) are liaising very closely with the CBBB by way of regular conference calls. Given the likely global impact of US IWG guidelines on marketing, the global food industry has a significant stake in their development. WFA will draw on European and global learnings in order to support CBBB in their submissions, particularly in relation to the technical implementation of the guidelines.

For more information please contact Will Gilroy.

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