18 Leading Food, Beverage, and Restaurant Companies Adopt Revised, Stronger Uniform Nutrition Criteria for Foods Advertised to Children

All Participants in BBB’s Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative Agree to Stricter Self-Regulation

Arlington, VA – September 20, 2018 – All 18 companies that participate in the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI) have agreed to strengthen the Category-Specific Uniform Nutrition Criteria that apply to foods advertised to children. CFBAI announced that all of its participants -- 18 leading U.S. food and beverage and quick serve restaurant companies -- have agreed to an implementation date of January 1, 2020 to coincide with implementation of the Food and Drug Administration’s new food labeling regulations. CFBAI is an advertising self-regulation program of the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB).

CFBAI’s participants, who represent the majority of child-directed food advertising, use its Uniform Nutrition Criteria to determine the foods that they advertise to children under age 12. The Revised Criteria further strengthen voluntary efforts to help improve child-directed food advertising. Approximately 40 percent of foods on CFBAI’s current Product List do not meet the Revised Criteria and will require reformulation if these foods are to continue to qualify for child-directed advertising after January 1, 2020. CFBAI has published a White Paper that explains the revisions and the basis for the Revised Criteria.

“The Revised Criteria are the latest step in CFBAI’s ongoing commitment to help improve child-directed advertising and encourage healthier food choices. The new criteria reflect meaningful, challenging, and practical changes that will build on the transparency and rigor of the 2011 Criteria,” said Maureen Enright, CBBB Vice President and CFBAI Director. “Updated food categories are more transparent and have stricter requirements that better recognize the foods’ different dietary roles. CFBAI’s criteria now will have an added sugars criteria to align with FDA’s new Nutrition Facts Panel. Key categories have stricter sodium and added sugars standards, revised whole grain food requirements will help ensure foods contribute a meaningful amount of whole grains, and more food groups are required in the Main Dishes and Meals categories. CFBAI’s participants already have undertaken over ten years of reformulations, and the Revised Criteria will encourage further reformulation and development of foods with improved health profiles and nutrient density.”

The Revised Criteria reflect important nutrition policy, dietary recommendations, and regulatory developments, notably the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA 2015) and FDA’s first revisions to the nutrition label in 20 years. The new criteria also take into account the inherent differences in food categories and their roles in the diet.

Revised Criteria Highlights

  • The food categories are more transparent and descriptive. The Revised Criteria include new categories for foods that previously were bundled together in one broad category. The new categories have more rigorous requirements that better recognize the different dietary roles of the foods and their varied nutrient or ingredient compositions.
  • To align with the new NFP, CFBAI has adopted an “added sugars” criteria. The new criteria replaces “total sugars” used in the 2011 Criteria.   
  • Key categories have stricter sodium and added sugars limits. The Dietary Guidelines and numerous health organizations urge Americans to reduce their sodium and added sugars consumption. In response to these recommendations, CFBAI has reduced sodium limits in thirteen of the seventeen categories, and estimates that the new added sugar limits represent at least a 10% reduction in key categories such as Milks, Cereals, Savory Snacks, Sweet Snacks and Exempt Beverages. 
  • The food group and positive nutrient requirements have been strengthened in important ways.
    • The whole grain foods criteria has been revised to ensure foods contribute a meaningful amount of whole grains;
    • More food groups are now required in the Main Dishes and Meals categories;
    • Certain categories now may qualify if the first ingredient is a food group, a change that incentivizes the inclusion of food groups in more foods;
    • The nutrient-based qualification requirements are more rigorous because they have been limited to nutrients that the DGA identify as “under-consumed,” with an exception for one category.
  • 40% of foods on CFBAI’s Product List will need reformulation in order to continue to qualify for child-directed advertising after the January 1, 2020 implementation date.  

Launched in 2007, CFBAI was created to respond to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Institute of Medicine (IOM) calls for self regulation to do more to address food advertising to children in light of the increase in childhood obesity. When the program started, participants used company-specific nutrition criteria to determine the foods they could advertise to children. This changed when CFBAI adopted uniform criteria in 2011 and implemented those criteria December 31, 2013. Since then, participants have reformulated foods within their product portfolios and developed new foods to meet the criteria. As a result, foods in categories frequently advertised to children have significantly improved, including sugar reductions in cereals and yogurts, more whole grains in cereals and crackers, and sodium reductions in many categories.

CFBAI’s participants are American Licorice Company, Burger King Corporation, Campbell Soup Company, The Coca-Cola Company, Conagra Brands, Inc., Danone North America, PBC, Ferrero USA, Inc., General Mills, Inc., The Hershey Company, Kellogg Company, The Kraft Heinz Company, Mars, Incorporated, McDonald’s USA, Mondelez Global, LLC, Nestlé USA, PepsiCo, Inc., Post Foods, LLC, and Unilever USA.

More information on the criteria and the White Paper are available at: https://bbbprograms.org/programs/cfbai/.

ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, the Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands, and charities they can trust. In 2017, people turned to BBB more than 160 million times for BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.2 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at BBB.org. The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for the local, independent BBBs in the United States, Canada, and Mexico, as well as home to its national and international programs on dispute resolution, advertising review, and industry self-regulation.

MEDIA CONTACTS: For further information, media representatives should contact Katherine Hutt (212) 705-0131 or khutt@council.bbb.org.

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