Washington, D.C.—An interagency Working Group led by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has come out with voluntary guidelines that would limit advertising aimed at children for foods high in sodium, sugar and saturated fat. The proposals state that food advertising should promote healthy dietary choices in children, as well. Food products in categories traditionally geared toward children ages 2-17, like breakfast cereals, candy and baked goods, should abide by these advertising standards by 2016, according to the document released by FTC.

The proposals state that foods should not be advertised to children if they exceed 1g of saturated fat per “reference amounts customarily consumed” (RACC), a measure which does not necessarily equate to serving size. There should also be no trans fat, less than 13g of added sugar and less than 210 mg of sodium in kid-targeted products, the Working Group states. Additionally, foods marketed to children should contain contributions from at least one of the following food groups: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk products, fish, extra lean meat or poultry, nuts and seeds, eggs or beans.

Advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is working to make sure companies actually take heed of these principals. “We expect the guidelines to stay voluntary, and will work hard to urge food and beverage manufacturers, restaurants and media companies to adopt them. The nutrition standards are strong, and the media definitions are comprehensive,” says Margo Wootan, D.Sc., director of Nutrition Policy for CSPI, adding, “If companies adopt the standards, it would greatly reduce the amount of junk food marketing kids are exposed to.”

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, July 2011 (online 5/20/11)