Celebrating National Cereal Day with Healthier Options

Mar 7, 2022 by Lauren Eskenazi, Program Manager, Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative, BBB National Programs

As reported in Food Business News, breakfast cereal demand has been on the rise as the COVID pandemic has advanced. People ate at home and did not want to venture out to the grocery store as often, which meant that they turned to easily stored staples, like cereals.

Whether or not this trend continues, there will always be people of all ages who will choose to start their day with a bowl of cereal. So, pour yourself a bowl, grab a spoon, and join the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI) to observe National Cereal Day.

Cereals arrived at the breakfast table in the mid-1800s to help balance a meat-heavy diet. Experimentation with grains by several well-known companies eventually created the huge national market we know today. Since 2007, the leading U.S. cereal companies (General Mills, The Kellogg Company, and Post Foods) have participated in CFBAI, which was created to improve the children’s food advertising landscape. 

These companies and the other CFBAI participants use the program’s strict Category-Specific Uniform Nutrition Criteria to determine which foods they may advertise to children and, as a result, cereals advertised to kids have increased in whole grains, and provide key vitamins, minerals, and food groups, while containing modest calories, saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars. As children usually eat cereal with milk, cereal consumption also boosts their dairy intake, with the benefits of calcium, Vitamin D, and protein. 

Although many cereals and their brand characters have been around for decades, what is inside the boxes has changed. Before CFBAI, kids’ cereals contained as many as 16 grams of total sugar per serving. CFBAI participants steadily decreased the amount of added sugars in cereals advertised to children. The revised Uniform Nutrition Criteria set a limit of no more than 12 grams of sugar per serving, and some cereals contain ten grams or less. At the same time, the whole grain content of many cereals increased steadily and significantly.  

According to CFBAI’s 2021 Cereal Fact Sheet, which describes the nutritional content of cereals on the August 2021 CFBAI Product List, 73% of the listed cereals showed whole grains as the first ingredient on the label and provided at least a half serving of whole grains; 50% provided a full serving. CFBAI participants continue to develop new cereals that provide whole grains; in February 2022, CFBAI participants added several new cereals that provide at least a full serving of whole grains to the Product List.  

To learn more about CFBAI, or the commitments of participating companies, visit our website.

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