Here's a shocker: Cocoa Krispies won't protect your kids from swine flu

Maybe you spotted the box labels claiming that Cocoa Krispies somehow "helps support your child's immunity." As you can probably guess, this isn't exactly true, and Oregon's attorney general has forced Kellogg's to stop saying that it is.

Kellogg's has officially settled with the Oregon Department of Justice and Attorney General John Kroger. The terms of the settlement specify that Kellogg's has to stop shipping any cereal with this obvious falsehood about immunity displayed on its boxes no later than Jan. 15 -- that is, unless Kellogg's can back up the "immunity" line with actual science.

Also, under the terms of the settlement, the cereal giant will be incinerating millions of packages featuring the slogan and donating hundreds of thousands of boxes of cereal to the Oregon Food Banks and other charities.


Some background: Late in 2008, Kellogg's began adding additional vitamins to its Krispies line of cereals, and then, to capitalize on the swine flu hysteria, began promoting the idea that the vitamins boosted immunity by 11%. At the same time, the levels of sweetener in the cereal remained the same. Forty percent sugar. Of course, we're not just talking about plain old Rice Krispies, but also candy-ish Cocoa Krispies and Frosted Krispies.

So while Kellogg's made the claim that Rice Krispies were healthy, the unhealthy aspects of the cereal remained intact.

By the way, this isn't the first time Kellogg's has tried to pull a fast one.

In cahoots with Kraft and General Mills, it attempted to launch a campaign in which it labeled certain foods as "Smart Choices" -- deceiving consumers by ballyhooing the health benefits of food products such as FudgeSicles and Froot Loops. Yeah. FudgeSicles and Froot Loops were considered "Smart Choices."

In fact, check out this commercial in which a kid acting like a doctor instructs a sickly looking kid that Froot Loops are a great source of fiber. As weird as it is for anyone to suggest that Froot Loops (or Cocoa Krispies) are healthy, there's something appropriate about a kid pretending to be a doctor and subsequently pretending that Froot Loops is actual food.

You might be saying to yourself, Anyone who believed the "Smart Choices" label wasn't all that smart. Ironic, I know. However, it's not so much about people being dumb enough to fall for the lie, it's about not allowing food companies to attempt to deceive the public in the first place. It's about drawing a line in the sand. Enjoy capitalism, but don't abuse it.

So, fortunately, the FDA stopped the "Smart Choices" campaign dead in its tracks. Between that and the Oregon settlement, two small victories for the consumer.


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