The powerful head of the House Telecommunications & Internet Subcommittee says food marketers haven’t agreed to go on the Kellogg food marketing diet.
Chairman Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said Wednesday he was not happy with the responses he got from Coca-Cola General Mills, Kraft, McDonalds, and Pepsi because they had not pledged to "supersize' their commitment to public health" as he had asked them to do.
After Kellogg agreed to adopt nutrition standards and limit the use of licensed characters in their marketing to kids, Markey had written to the five major food companies suggesting they should follow suit.
All responded that they had taken self regulatory steps, with McDonald’s, Pepsi, and General Mills saying they would unveil further initiatives at a Federal Trade Commission seminar on obesity July 18.
Markey was not satisfied, releasing a statement saying that none of the companies had committed to initiatives similar to Kellog, but instead had talked about existing programs.
"The vague and incomplete responses form these companies, at a time when our country is facing a serious childhood obesity crisis, again raises the question of whether voluntary industry action will be sufficient to combat this important public health issue," Markey said.
A govenment-industry obesity task force put off its mid-July deadline for offering suggestions on food marketing self-regulation in part to give companies time to weigh in at the FTC seminar.
Markey has asked the FCC to step in if the task force's recommendations are not strong enough, with FCC Chairman Kevin Martin saying that may have to happen.
"We’ve seen more progress and commitment to implement responsible marketing and advertising practices by food companies over the last two years than at any other time and in many other industries,” said Adonis Hoffman, senior VP, counsel, for American Association of Advertising Agencies. “It misses the mark to suggest these commitments—and the plans for more to come—are de minimis.
"Coca-Cola, General Mills, Kraft and McDonalds, in addition to other companies, all have promised to: stop advertising to kids under 12; to avoid using third-party licensed characters in any media; to not use product placements in any media aimed at kids under 12, and to not advertise their products in schools. Far from side-stepping the issues, these are big commitments that deal with marketing practices head on.”