Bitedigest's Blog

Has all but good taste gone to rot?

FTC to Kellogg: Snap!

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Washington, D.C.—The Federal Trade Commission has put the clamp on the Kellogg Co. claim that Rice Krispies “helps support your child’s immunity” with “25% daily value of antioxidants and nutrients—vitamins A, B, C and E.”

On the back of the box, Kellogg further claims that the cereal “has been improved to include antioxidants and nutrients that your family needs to help them stay healthy.”

Suspecting corporate hyperbole, the FTC investigated and found no significant science to support these claims. The Commission reached a settlement with Kellogg, prohibiting the Battle Creek, Michigan, company from making claims about any health benefit of any food unless they are backed by scientific evidence and aren’t misleading.

The FTC’s chairman, Jon Leibowitz said, “Next time, Kellogg needs to stop and think twice about the claims it’s making before rolling out a new ad compaign, so parents can make the best choices for their children.”

Or was that a Leibowitz quote from last year? That’s when Kellogg Co. settled federal charges that it falsely advertised the benefits of eating Frosted Mini-Wheats, which the company claimed boosted attentiveness in nearly 20% of children who ate the cereal. In actuality, the study concluded that only half the children who ate Frosted Mini-Wheats improved their attentiveness—and only 11% of the children in the study improved their attentiveness by 20%.

Is it possible that of the Kellogg marketing and research staff, 100% had their attentiveness compromised when they crunched those numbers?

Gold medal Olympian Michael Phelps, dropped from an endorsement deal by Kellogg Co. in February 2009 for smoking marijuana, could not be reached for comment. At the time of Phelps’ dismissal, Kellogg Co. said his behavior “was not consistent with the image of Kellogg.”

One must wonder what they’re doing at the W.K. Kellogg Institute for Food and Nutrition Research in Battle Creek. Just last year the company spent $54 million to improve its laboratories and research facilities, and added 157,000 square feet of additional space for 300 employees. It brought under one roof the company’s best and brightest food scientists and developers, with 400,000 square feet of space, a flexible experimental production area and an improved pilot plant—where products can be tested before they hit full-scale production.

At the time, David Mackay, Kellogg Co. president and CEO, trumpeted the Institute’s accomplishments. Since opening 12 years ago, he said, the Kellogg Institute has introduced successful products that have built on its core brand names, such as Special K protein meal bars, waters, shakes, crackers and cereal flavor varieties. He added that it has allowed the company to reduce sugar and sodium in many of its products (We’ll wait and see on that, but in the meantime, it does put into stark relief the old days, when a box of Sugar Corn Pops needn’t misrepresent itself…)

“I’m confident that all this good work of the past will pale in comparison to the renovations and innovations we can expect now that Kellogg has the premier product development center in the industry,” said Mackay.

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Written by Brian O'Connor

June 7, 2010 at 5:34 pm

Posted in cereal

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