ANA Strongly Opposes Interagency Working Group Proposal for Restrictions on Food Marketing to Children

Contact:  Dan Jaffe at (202) 296-1883


Believes IWG should "formally withdraw proposal and develop real solutions that will work"

July 14, 2011; Washington, D.C. - The ANA (Association of National Advertisers) filed comments today expressing strong opposition to a proposal from an Interagency Working Group of four federal agencies that calls for sweeping restrictions on food, beverage and restaurant marketing to children 17 years old and younger.  The Working Group, composed of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, released its proposal on April 28th.  ANA's comments are available at

"The IWG proposal is truly radical and unprecedented.  It calls for a massive re-engineering of the entire food industry, based on nutrition standards that go far beyond any ever approved by a government agency," stated Dan Jaffe, ANA's Executive Vice President, Government Relations.  "The proposal calls for sweeping restrictions on the marketing of a wide array of healthy products, not only to children but to adults as well.  As such, it violates the First Amendment rights of both marketers and consumers.  Worst of all, there is absolutely no discussion or proof that these massive changes, which would cost billions of dollars if carried out, would have any direct impact on reducing childhood obesity rates."

Jaffe pointed out that the IWG has declared war on cereals, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, tomato soup, 2% milk and thousands of other healthy foods and beverages as well as many restaurant items.  According to the NDP Group, Inc., only twelve of the top 100 most commonly consumed foods and beverages in America would meet the IWG's proposed nutrition standards.  The ANA believes it is ironic that many of the same foods that 'fail' the IWG standards meet the FDA's definition of 'healthy' and bear FDA-authorized health claims.  They meet the USDA's standards for the WIC program and the food stamp program.  This clearly shows how unreasonable the IWG's nutrition standards are.

The ANA also notes that the IWG proposal includes an extremely broad definition of marketing, including packaging, point-of-purchase displays, sponsorship of events and sports teams, even philanthropic activities tied to branded products.  This definition goes far beyond marketing directed to children to encompass ads for healthy food products that are directed to adults.  Such an approach clearly violates the First Amendment. 

This proposal would apply to both children 2-11 and to adolescents 12-17.  In its request for comments, the IWG acknowledged that there are developmental differences between adolescents and younger children, but is still considering a more-narrowly defined, yet still restrictive, set of guidelines geared toward adolescents covering various forms of new media.  The ANA believes that treating teenagers as if they were young children in regard to advertising is not appropriate.

Jaffe concluded: "While this proposal is falsely labeled as 'voluntary,' it is clearly an effort by four powerful government agencies to suppress advertising about a very broad range of healthy food products.  We believe the IWG should formally withdraw this proposal and develop real solutions that will work, rather than stigmatizing healthy foods and legitimate, truthful marketing practices."


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About the ANA

Founded in 1910, the ANA (Association of National Advertisers) leads the marketing community by providing its members with insights, collaboration, and advocacy.  ANA's membership includes 400 companies with 9,500 brands that collectively spend over $250 billion in marketing communications and advertising.  ANA strives to communicate marketing best practices, lead industry initiatives, influence industry practices, manage industry affairs, and advance, promote, and protect all advertisers and marketers.

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