Kellogg Launches Major Health Initiative

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Kellogg Launches Major Health Initiative

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. -- Don't be surprised if you see Tony the Tiger sporting a sweat suit. Major cereal and convenience foods producer Kellogg Co. here said yesterday it is undertaking two major initiatives to further meet consumers' health and nutrition needs. The supplier will begin adjusting what and how it markets to children under age 12, and will introduce new front-of-pack nutrition labeling to the North American market that's already been well received in Europe and Australia.

"The initiatives we're announcing today set a new standard of responsibility and are consistent with our 100-plus year heritage, further strengthening our commitment to helping consumers make informed food choices," said David Mackay, president and c.e.o. of Kellogg, during a media Webcast. "Around the world, Kellogg continues to play an active role in helping consumers successfully manage both sides of the calories in/calories out equation through product choices, in nutrition education, community programs, and partnerships promoting the importance of a balanced diet and physical activity."

Kellogg will change what and how it markets to children under 12 using nutrition criteria. The company will use its new internal standard, the Kellogg Global Nutrient Criteria (Nutrient Criteria), to determine which products will be marketed to children on TV, print, radio, and Internet, as well as how those products are marketed, including use of licensed properties, Web site activities directed to children, promotions/premiums, product placement, and in-school marketing. Projects that are already underway, such as the Kellogg tie-in with the film "Shrek" will run as scheduled in order to honor the company's contracts, Mackay said.

Kellogg's Nutrient Criteria, which is roughly based on guidelines established by the Institute of Medicine, sets an upper threshold per serving of 200 calories, two grams of saturated fat, labeled 0 grams of trans fat, 230 milligrams of sodium, and labeled 12 grams of sugar.

Kellogg said it will apply the Nutrient Criteria to all of its products marketed to children under age 12 around the world. Those products that don't meet the criteria (almost 50 percent of Kellogg products currently marketed to children worldwide, and 27 percent of advertisements in the U.S. are directed toward kids under age 12) will either be reformulated to meet the Nutrient Criteria or they will no longer be marketed to children under 12 by the end of 2008.

The Nutrient Criteria will also guide targeted future innovation and product development, the supplier said. Over time, the company will work toward providing consumers even more product choices with enhanced nutritional value - but taste and quality must prevail, it noted.

Wherever possible, implementation of Kellogg commitments will begin immediately. For example, certain brands will feature better-for-you options in their advertisements. The company will also make content enhancements to its child-directed Web sites, including adding automatic screen time limits and healthy lifestyle and nutrition messaging, plus limiting depictions of foods that don't meet its Nutrient Criteria in interactive activities like games, downloads, and wallpaper.

Additionally beginning later this year, consumers will see Guideline Daily Amounts (GDAs) on the front of ready-to-eat cereal packages in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. In the U.S., new packaging will feature a labeling system on the top, right-hand corner of cereal boxes, identifying percentages of calories, total fat, sodium, and grams of sugar per serving. The front-of-pack labels will also identify the nutrients recommended for a healthy diet in the U.S., including fiber, calcium, potassium, magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E. The percentages are based on a typical 2,000 calorie daily diet.

Kellogg first pioneered the use of GDAs in Europe and Australia, where the labeling approach has been well-received and adopted by the industry, according to the company.

Some news organizations speculated the initiatives were at least in part an effort to dodge criticism.