SF Calls Out Kellogg’s on Bogus Health Claims for Cocoa Krispies

[Update November 4: In a press release earlier today, Kellogg's announced it would remove the immunity label from its packaging.]

Earlier this week, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera sent a letter to Kellogg’s CEO expressing concerns over the very misleading front of package “claim” which you can see for yourself on the right.

“I am concerned that the prominent use of the Immunity Claims to advertise a sugar-laden, chocolate cereal like Cocoa Krispies may mislead and deceive parents of young children. Specifically, the Immunity Claims may falsely suggest to parents that cereals like Cocoa Krispies are more healthy for their children than other breakfast foods that are not high in sugar and not highly processed.

The Immunity Claims may also mislead parents into believing that serving this sugary cereal will actually boost their child’s immunity, leaving parents less likely to take more productive steps to protect their children’s health.

At a time when parents are increasingly worried about the spread of the H1N1 virus (“swine flu”), it is vitally important that parents receive accurate information about what they can do to protect their children’s health.”

A copy of the letter, which requests to see the scientific evidence behind the immunity claim, has also been sent to FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg. As Marion Nestle points out in her excellent Food Politic blog “Shouldn’t the FDA be taking this on?”

What you need to know:

Is a new wave of backlash against food processors starting to rise? Just 2 weeks ago Connecticut’s Attorney General wrote strongly to the Smart Choices Program regarding its questionable benchmarks. The FDA followed up a week later with a letter that ultimately led the program to suspend itself indefinitely (read – harakiri).

This is a good sign (hopefully) of things to come. A product package is not a billboard for half baked medical claims. When you come to think of it, it’s surprising that the FDA didn’t do anything when the revamped Rice Krispies came out this summer.

The product in question is a sugar bomb (40% by weight) that also carries trans fat and BHT. You can read our recent analysis here.

What to do at the supermarket:

Since the only product information tightly regulated by the FDA is the nutrition panel and the ingredient list, those are the ONLY places you should look to for accurate information regarding a food you are about to place in your shopping cart.

Short, understandable ingredient lists are usually a sign of a better product.

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