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Dairy Facts 2016

Working Group Releases Proposed Guidelines for Marketing to Kids

May 04, 2011

A working group representing several federal agencies last week released proposed voluntary guidelines that would establish limits on foods and beverages marketed to children and teens. The guidelines, developed by representatives of the Federal Trade Commission, the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, would allow companies to market products that make a meaningful contribution to a healthful diet and that contain low levels of saturated fat, trans fat, added sugars and sodium.

The guidelines are part of the federal government's overall efforts to combat rising obesity rates among children. They are intended to help companies self-regulate their advertising efforts and improve the nutritional profile of the foods and beverages marketed to children. They are similar to but less restrictive than the guidelines the working group initially released in 2009. (See "Federal Group Unveils Strict Nutrition Standards for Marketing to Kids.")

Low-fat and fat-free dairy products are among the products that would be allowed in direct advertising and other marketing efforts designed to reach children between the ages of 2 and 17. To qualify, these products must contain 1 gram or less of saturated fat and derive 15 percent or less of calories from saturated fat. They also must have 0 grams of trans fat and no more than 13 grams of added sugar per FDA's defined serving size, known as the Reference Amount Customarily Consumed.

In addition, the guidelines set five-year and 10-year targets for sodium content. Allowable products must contain no more than 210 milligrams per labeled serving size by 2016 and no more than 140 milligrams per Reference Amount Customarily Consumed by 2021. Naturally occurring saturated fat, trans fat and sodium are exempt from this restriction, so the low levels of saturated fat in low-fat milk would not count against the nutrient limit.

The dairy products that companies would be allowed to market to children are:

  • Low-fat and fat-free unflavored milk;
  • Low-fat and fat-free flavored milk with less than 13 grams of added sugar per cup;
  • Low-fat and fat-free yogurt, with less than 13 grams of added sugar per cup;
  • Low-fat and fat-free cheese, with less than 210 milligrams of sodium per serving through 2016, with further reductions by 2021; and
  • Low-fat and fat-free ice cream and frozen desserts with less than 13 grams of added sugar per half cup.

The guidelines also set standards for food groups and nutrient limits for entrees and meals that are marketed to children, such as macaroni and cheese. These standards are based on the amount of certain food groups provided in one entrée or meal and on slightly different nutrient limits than those used for individual foods and beverages.

The Interagency Working Group will accept comments on the proposed guidelines through June 13, 2011. It also plans to hold a half-day workshop on May 24 in Washington, D.C., to discuss the guidelines.

IDFA will continue to review the guidelines to analyze their full impact on the dairy industry and will work with interested members to draft comments to the Interagency Working Group. The proposed guidelines and other information on the Interagency Working Group are available here.

Interested members may contact Cary Frye, IDFA vice president of regulatory affairs, at (202) 737-4332 or, or Michelle Matto, IDFA consultant on nutrition and labeling, at (202) 431-6864 or


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