Today’s Roanoke Times offered two food-related stories on the front page. The first was a nice article by Duncan Adams about a program at Washington and Lee University, The Campus Kitchen, that helps to feed hungry people in the community by taking leftover food and using volunteers to distribute meals. Walmart is a sponsor. Hit the link above if you haven’t had a chance to read about The Campus Kitchen.
The other story on today’s A1 is about the proposed guidelines for companies that market food to children. The guidelines have been proposed by the Federal Trade Commission, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture at the direction of Congress. Read the full report by clicking the link in this paragraph.
The guidelines, which apply to kids ages 2 through 17, were summed up nicely by The Atlantic in an April blog entry. Here’s their summary:
Principle A: Foods marketed to children must make a meaningful contribution to healthful diets, and contain at least one of these food groups:
* whole grain
* fat-free or low-fat (1-percent) milk products
* extra lean meat or poultry
* nuts and seeds
Principle B is that the foods should minimize intake of nutrients that could have a negative impact on health or weight. The key standards are:
* Saturated Fat: 1 g or less per serving and 15 percent or less of calories
* Trans Fat: 0 g per serving
* Added Sugars: No more than 13 g of added sugars per serving
* Sodium: No more than 210 mg per serving [End The Atlantic excerpt]
These standards are intended to “encourage” the makers of food products targeted to children to reduce the amount of salt, sugars and fats in the products. The way I understand it, producers of foods that don’t meet those guidelines would be discouraged from marketing them to American kids, who are more and more becoming overweight or obese.
This is an interesting sentence from the story: “Foodmakers said the voluntary guidelines are too severe and would prevent them from marketing even relatively healthy foods to children.” One representative, Jo Ann Emerson of Missouri, said “I’m always worried when voluntary guidelines get pushed, because I fear that it will become prescribed.”
So… these are *voluntary*. But the food makers (along with Viacom and Time Warner, who are also upset about the proposal because they’re afraid they’re going to lose advertising dollars) seem to be treating them as mandates. Is this the slippery slope fear we hear about in other debates? The concern that if you “give them an inch, they’re going to take a mile”?
Perhaps they ARE going to take a mile and eventually make these standards the law. I haven’t had a chance yet to read the entire report. I understand there’s some concern they could cause job losses. Nobody wants to see job losses.
But I’d sure like to see healthier kids. I’d also like to see kids out playing in their yards more often, riding bikes, climbing trees and joining sports teams, because we all know that eating healthier doesn’t do nearly as much good if you’re still sitting on the couch.
What do you think about these proposed guidelines and the coalition’s reaction to them?