House Telecommunications Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey (D-Mass.) has called on Coke, Pepsi, Kraft, McDonalds and General Mills to adopt the same marketing restrictions on food ads to kids implemented by Kellogg last week.
Kellogg, to head off a threatened lawsuit, pledged to adopt nutrition standards and then either modify the products or no longer advertise them on media with over a 50% child audience. It also said it would limit the use of licensed characters to foods that met those guidelines, and would not target kids with product placements.
If the other companies follow suit, that could mean either a lot of tweaking with fat and sugar content of foods or billions of dollars in kids advertising in jeopardy.
“While parents and families have an undeniable responsibility to steer their children toward healthy choices," said Markey, "the Institute of Medicine has linked the current unhealthy trend toward poor nutrition and childhood obesity in our country to the prevalence of television advertisements for fast food, junk food, sugared cereals, and other foods wholly lacking in nutritional value."
The letters to the five major food marketers came in advance of a Friday (June 22) hearing in which Markey's subcommittee will look at the effect of the media on kids.