Young boy eating plate of vegetables
C.F.B.A.I. reports 'outstanding' compliance with new uniform nutrition criteria.

ARLINGTON, VA. — Overall compliance with the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (C.F.B.A.I.) was “outstanding” during 2014, the first full year under new standards, according to the Council for Better Business Bureaus (C.B.B.B.). The program was established in 2006 for responsible food companies to change what foods they advertised to children because of concerns about childhood obesity.

In 2014, 17 companies participated in the initiative. The companies, which include Campbell Soup Co., Coca-Cola Co., General Mills and Kellogg Co., accounted for the majority of the food and beverage advertisements that aired during 2014. The C.F.B.A.I. monitored more than 4,000 advertisements on children’s media.

Elaine Kolish
Elaine D. Kolish, director of the C.F.B.A.I. and v.p. of the C.B.B.B.

“Last year marked the first full year that C.F.B.A.I.’s category-specific uniform nutrition criteria were in effect, resulting in more improvements to foods that are being advertised to children,” said Elaine D. Kolish, director of the C.F.B.A.I. and vice-president of the C.B.B.B. “Those changes, along with the hundreds of changes made earlier and since then, mean that today the foods C.F.B.A.I. participants advertise to children are markedly better nutritionally than when C.F.B.A.I. started nine years ago.”

The uniform nutrition criteria were introduced in 2011. At that time, the requirements divided foods into 10 categories and provided criteria for each category. The categories include juices; dairy products; grains, fruits and vegetable products; soups and meal sauces; seeds, nuts, nut butters and spreads; meat, fish and poultry products; mixed dishes; main dishes and entrees; small meals; and meals.

The specific requirements for the categories include:

• For juices, there may be no added sugars, and a serving must not contain more than 160 calories.

• In the dairy category, ready-to-drink flavored milks must not exceed 24 grams of total sugars in an 8-oz portion. In yogurt products, a 6-oz portion is limited to 170 calories and 23 grams of total sugars.

• For grains, fruits and vegetables and items not in other categories, foods with 150 calories or less may not have more than 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 290 mg of sodium and 10 grams of sugar. The foods also must have a half or more serving of foods to encourage or more than 10% of the daily value of an essential nutrient.

• Seeds, nuts, nut butters and spreads may not have more than 220 calories, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 240 mg of sodium and 4 grams of sugar per 2 tablespoons. The foods must also provide at least 1 oz of protein.

• Main dishes and entrees must have no more than 350 calories, 10% calories from saturated fat, 600 mg of sodium and 15 grams of sugar per serving. The foods also must have 1 or more servings of foods to encourage or a half or more serving of foods to encourage and 10% or more of the daily value of two essential nutrients.

At the time the nutrition criteria were introduced in 2011, the C.F.B.A.I. said one in three products advertised to children did not meet the criteria. The uniform standards required companies to change the recipes of products or they were not able to advertise them after Dec. 31, 2013.

“Meaningful, transparent and accountable self-regulation works,” Ms. Kolish said. “We’re particularly proud of the fact that the amount of advertising for foods with fruits, vegetables, whole grains or dairy is steadily increasing. C.F.B.A.I. is not just about reducing the sugar, salt or saturated fat content of foods.”

Maureen Enright, deputy director of the C.F.B.A.I., oversees compliance monitoring. She said that overall compliance during 2014 “was outstanding.”

“Occasionally, we found that an ad for a food that did not meet C.F.B.A.I.’s nutrition criteria had aired on child-directed programming or in digital media, and each time our participant promptly addressed the issue,” Ms. Enright said. “The companies work hard to maintain systems and procedures to ensure their ad buys on children’s media are only for foods that meet C.F.B.A.I.’s nutrition criteria.”

For the full report,click here.