BBB National Programs Insights
CFBAI: 13 years of Dynamic Self-Regulation
The Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI) has been at work for almost 13 years helping address childhood obesity by improving the landscape of food advertising to children under age 12. Under CFBAI and CCAI’s Core Commitments, participants agree to advertise to children only foods that meet CFBAI’s scientifically based nutrition standards, or to not advertise at all to this age group.
Before CFBAI, best practices in the food advertising world related only to how foods (and other products, like toys) were advertised to children. CFBAI established the principle that responsible food advertising uses nutrition criteria to determine the foods advertised to kids. Today, 19 of the leading U.S. food and beverage and restaurant companies voluntarily participate in CFBAI and eight companies have joined CCAI, a similar program for small and medium-sized confectionery companies.
Excellent compliance and ongoing program improvements are hallmarks of CFBAI. Since its launch, CFBAI has strengthened the program several times. Its most recent milestone is CFBAI’s Category-Specific Uniform Nutrition Criteria, 2nd ed, adopted to align with FDA’s updated labeling requirements and other important nutrition guidance. Implemented in January 2020, the Uniform Criteria include important improvements:
- An “added sugars” criteria has been adopted to align with the new food label;
- Sodium limits were reduced in thirteen of the seventeen categories and the new added sugars limits represent at least a 10% reduction in several key categories;
- The whole grain criterion has been strengthened to ensure foods contribute a meaningful amount of whole grains; and
- Food categories are more transparent and descriptive.
CFBAI estimated that 40% of the foods on the CFBAI Product List would need reformulation in order to qualify for child-directed advertising.
As envisioned when the program was created, CFBAI has been a dynamic program that will continue to evolve and grow in the future.