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Rice Krispies Busted for False Health Claims

You can’t always believe what you read — especially if you’re reading the back of a cereal box.

In other words, Rice Krispies won’t boost your immunity and Frosted Mini-Wheats won’t make your kid more attentive (if only!).

The Kellogg Company has agreed to new advertising restrictions which will prohibit them from making such dubious claims, the Federal Trade Commission announced today.

Last year, the FTC investigated and then took action against the Kellogg Company for claiming that its Frosted Mini- Wheats cereal was “clinically shown to improve kids’ attentiveness by nearly 20% ” when that wasn’t the case.

The FTC has expanded its settlement order against Kellogg to include the latest health claim that Rice Krispies boosts children’s  immunity.

According to the box, Rice Krispies “now helps support your child’s immunity,” with “25 percent Daily Value of Antioxidants and Nutrients – Vitamins A, B, C, and E.” The back of the box stated that “Kellogg’s Rice Krispies has been improved to include antioxidants and nutrients that your family needs to help them stay healthy.”

The claims did not sit well with the FTC.

“We expect more from a great American company than making dubious claims – not once, but twice – that its cereals improve children’s health,” said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz. “Next time, Kellogg needs to stop and think twice about the claims it’s making before rolling out a new ad campaign, so parents can make the best choices for their children.”

Under the original settlement order which covered the questionable benefits of Frosted Mini-Wheats, the FTC barred Kellogg from making claims about the health benefits of any breakfast or snack food unless the claims could be substantiated.

The FTC has expanded the order so that Kellogg is now prohibited from making any claims about health benefits of any food unless the claims are “backed by scientific evidence and not misleading.”

The least healthful cereals were the ones most heavily marketed to children,  according to a study by Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity. The study also found that kids were exposed to more advertising for highly sweetened cereals than for any other kind of packaged food.

“As a trusted, long-established company with a presence in millions of American homes, Kellogg must not shirk its responsibility to do the right thing when it advertises the food we feed our children,” the FTC wrote in a statement.

Next thing they’ll be telling us that Snap, Crackle and Pop aren’t real.

Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/paulidin/

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