Nestlé Nudged by Lawmaker, Health Groups on Marketing Junk Food to Kids
Food Giant Absent from Industry's Child Nutrition Initiative
June 9, 2008A key member of Congress and a number of health groups are wondering why self-proclaimed nutrition, health and wellness leader Nestlé is absent from an industry-wide effort limit junk-food marketing to children.
In letters to Nestlé CEO Paul Bulcke, U.S. Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and separately, the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest and more than 30 other health and child advocacy organizations, are urging the company to join the Council of Better Business Bureau's Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative, and set nutrition standards for the foods it markets to kids.
Thirteen major food companies already belong to the industry initiative, including Coca-Cola, Kraft, McDonald's, as well as Nestlé's more direct competitors Cadbury Adams, Hershey, and Mars. Nestlé participates in a similar initiative in Canada, but not in the U.S.
"Nestlé claims to be 'the world’s leading nutrition, health, and wellness company', but when it comes to food marketing to kids, Nestlé is a laggard, not a leader," said CSPI nutrition policy director Margo G. Wootan.
According to a recent CSPI assessment, 113 of 121, or 93 percent, of Nestlé foods and beverages marketed to children are of poor nutritional quality, such as Willy Wonka candy products like Nerds, Laffy Taffy, and Sweetarts; Nesquik flavored milk drinks and Nestlé chocolate syrups and powders; and Butterfinger candy bars. Six of eight beverages that Nestlé markets in school vending machines, or 75 percent, are of poor nutritional quality (four are made with 1% milk, but are packaged in portion sizes larger than recommended for children).
"If Nestlé can pledge to cut back on junk-food marketing in Canada, why not in the United States?" said Rep. Markey. "Given the high rates of obesity in the U.S., American kids need the same protections."
Other signatories on the letter to Nestlé include the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Public Health Association, National WIC Association, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, and the Prevention Institute.