Kellogg to Boost Nutritional Value of Kids' Foods

Boxes of Kellogg's Special K cerealon a supermarket shelf.
Nati Harnik
Boxes of Kellogg's Special K cerealon a supermarket shelf.

Younger children could be seeing less of colorful Toucan Sam if his Froot Loops cereal doesn't become more healthy.

Kellogg ,the world's largest cereal maker with brands like Apple Jacks and Frosted Flakes, has agreed to raise the nutritional value of the cereals and snacks it markets to kids. The change comes after parents and advocacy groups worried about child obesity threatened a lawsuit.

"We feel the Kellogg Nutrient Criteria set a new standard for responsibility in the industry," David Mackay, Kellogg's CEO, said in advance of a formal announcement planned for Thursday.

In conjunction with the new guidelines, the Center for Science in the Public Interest and Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood said they would not proceed with a threatened lawsuit against the company.

"We're pleased that we were able to work collaborative with Kellogg and that litigation proved not to be necessary," said CSPI Litigation Director Steve Gardner.

"By committing to these nutrition standards and marketing reforms, Kellogg has vaulted over the rest of the food industry," said Michael F. Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. The advocacy group had joined with others in 2006 to seek legal action against Kellogg.

The new standard calls for a single serving of the product to contain no more than 200 calories; no trans fat and no more than 2 grams of saturated fat; no more than 230 milligrams of sodium, except for Eggo frozen waffles; and no more than 12 grams of sugar, not counting sugar from fruit, dairy and vegetables.

By the end of 2008, brands that fall outside of certain standards will either be reformulated or dropped from advertising that reaches audiences at least half of whom are under age 12.

A third of the cereals Kellogg markets to children in the U.S. fall outside those standards, said Mark Baynes, Kellogg's chief marketing officer. Most cereals fall inside the calorie guideline, he said, but meeting the sugar and sodium standards could be the most challenging.