Food Labeling Wars: Are Froot Loops Really Healthy?

Efforts to provide greater transparency when it comes to food and beverage advertising have hit a stumbling block. In other words, expect to see more claims that neon-colored breakfast cereals improve kids' health and that fluorescent beverages are not only thirst-quenching, but also nutritious.

Currently grabbing headlines are two distinct, but related, issues. One concerns the advertising of foods of dubious nutritional value to children, a marketing practice that has come under fire from advocacy groups like Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). According to the New York Times, the Obama administration is pressuring the food industry to save its child-centric ad promotions for products with a more healthful nutritional profile. Food and advertising industry representatives aren't thrilled. Currently, companies are able to draft their own voluntary guidelines. Meaning? Cereals like Froot Loops continue to enjoy little ad regulation. A final report on this issue has been delayed.

The second, tangentially-related issue, is a lawsuit CSPI has brought against Vitamin Water, which is owned by the Coca Cola Company. A judge last week denied Coca Cola's motion to dismiss the suit, which alleges deceptive health claims on its labels.

Coca Cola is hardly alone. Late last year, Kellogg's came under fire for slapping immunity claims on its Rice Krispies cereal boxes. The company later discontinued the practice, following both public and legal pressure.

My advice to parents as well as those without kids: read the ingredients list on food labels, and use your judgment when interpreting health claims. Common sense is still your best tool for determining which foods are truly healthful.

How do you help your kids make healthier food choices? Chime in below!

Like this? Read these!
- The Daily Feed: The Problem with Marketing Food to Kids

- The Daily Feed: Breaking the Toy/Kiddie Meal Bond
- The Unhealthiest Fast Food Meals

Cheryl Sternman Rule is a widely-published food writer and the voice behind the blog 5 Second Rule. Read all of Cheryl's iVillage posts here.

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