Last updated: July 8, 2011 - 8:40am
[Commentary] The Federal Trade Commission, along with three other federal agencies, has released proposed "voluntary" principles for marketing food to kids. By "voluntary," they mean rules that food companies should follow if they don't want to open their wallets to an army of trial lawyers.
According to the Interagency Working Group, which includes the FTC, Food and Drug Administration, Department of Agriculture and Centers for Disease Control, food should only be marketed to kids if it both contains healthy ingredients and minimizes ingredients "that could have a negative impact on health or weight." The point of all this is ostensibly to combat childhood obesity. But the new "suggestions" won't even hit foods like candy and soft drinks, whose makers do virtually no advertising these days on kids TV. The Supreme Court has said commercial speech is entitled to strong First Amendment protection and has rejected regulations intended to diminish advertising. So we assume these FTC rules will get their First Amendment day in court. But reading the recommendations, we couldn't help thinking first of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, an ill-conceived 2008 law that was passed in a rush of concern for protecting kids from lead in toys. Instead, the law imposed huge costs on businesses and left kids with a playroom full of problems.
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