flamin' hot cheetosFood companies will soon face tougher rules about marketing unhealthy snacks and fast-food items to kids. Sort of, and not soon enough. According to the Wall Street Journal (subscription required), a working group composed of government regulators has recommended that any food that isn't a "meaningful contribution to a healthful diet" shouldn't be advertised to children.

Here's the catch.

The Federal Trade Commission says the regulations are neither "regulations" nor legally binding. Actually, it's more of a mild threat. In other words, either do this yourself, or we'll have to do it for you.
I don't have much confidence for either scenario, frankly. For example, a regulation was passed after 9/11 forcing food distributors to "register" with the FDA in order to make product recalls more efficient. Since then, only around half of all food distributors have complied -- one of the probable causes of last year's badly botched tomato poisoning/recall crisis.

Nevertheless, the intentions are good. Given that marketing cigarettes to kids has been entirely banned, however, you'd think there'd be equal concern about diabetes and obesity.

I'm not sure if it's mentioned in the report, but I would assume that the regulators would frown upon advertising something I saw advertised on a kids' cable network called "Giant Cheetos." Have you seen these things? They're monstrous wads of neon orange chemical product that are literally the size of golf balls -- in both "regular" or "flaming hot" varieties. (Of course the flavors are composed of chemicals that you'll never know about -- trade secrets -- and concocted inside a New Jersey laboratory.)

Just one of many items that are specifically advertised to kids and probably shouldn't be. Unless they start to bake whole apples in there somehow. After all, they're big enough.

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