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FTC Proposes New Food Marketing Guidelines
Vol. 813 
May 5, 2011

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The Federal Trade ommission (FTC)  proposed new guidelines last week for how companies can market and sell food products to kids. The proposed federal guidelines call on the food industry to overhaul how it advertises cereal, soda, snacks, restaurant meals and other foods to children.

Released by the FTC in reaction to an epidemic of childhood obesity, the guidelines target a broad range of advertising tactics used to entice children to consume foods high in fat, salt and sugar. Essentially encouraging companies to make healthier foods or to stop advertising to kids, the guidelines focus on a variety of marketing efforts, including television and print ads, Web sites, advertisements cloaked as online games, social media, product placement in movies, fast-food meals and movie characters in cross promotions. The inclusion of digital media represents one of the most robust efforts yet by the government to address the extension of children's advertising on the Internet.

"Our proposal really covers all forms of marketing to kids, and the product packaging and the images and themes on the cereal boxes have tremendous appeal to kids," Michelle K. Rusk, a lawyer with the trade commission, told The New York Times. "The goal is to encourage children to eat more healthy foods because obesity is a huge health crisis."

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