The Federal Trade Commission announced plans last week to conduct a follow-up study to its 2008 study of food marketing to children and adolescents. The FTC will gather information from 45 major food, beverage and quick-service restaurant companies that sell food in certain categories, including frozen and chilled desserts and dairy products.
As part of the 2008 study, the FTC published a report titled "Marketing Food to Children and Adolescents: A Review of Industry Expenditures, Activities, and Self-Regulation." The report reviewed policies and voluntary initiatives that food manufacturing companies had adopted to encourage healthy eating and lifestyle choices by children and adolescents.
The report offered several recommendations, including asking companies that market food or beverage products to children under age 12 to adopt meaningful nutrition-based standards for all products marketed through advertising and promotional techniques targeted to children. It also suggested that companies limit the licensing of characters popular with children to healthier foods and beverages.
The proposed study will seek updated information to assess the extent to which the 2008 report recommendations have been implemented and what, if any, additional measures may be warranted. Specifically, companies will be asked to provide details on the food marketing activities and expenditures that were targeted to children and adolescents in 2009, as well as marketing to youth of a specific gender, race, ethnicity or income level.
The commission also intends to evaluate possible changes in the nutritional content and variety of foods marketed to children. The new study will seek scientific and market research that examines psychological and other factors that may contribute to the appeal of food advertising among this age group.
FTC is seeking comments regarding the information-collection process before taking further action. Specific areas under review are the relevance of the proposed collection, FTC's estimate of the burden the process will place on companies and ways to minimize the burden, as well as ways to enhance the quality of information collected. More details are available here.
The deadline for submitting comments is November 23.
For more information, contact Ruth Saunders, IDFA vice president of policy and legislative affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-220-3553.