• Sodium has been reduced in many products, and the fat content of foods advertised to children has dropped. For example, ConAgra Foods reduced the sodium in the Kid Cuisine meals advertised to children by an average of 15 percent from 2011 to 2012.
• Point-of-sale practices of the two quick-serve restaurant chains participating in the program have changed. In 2011, Burger King instructed its servers to ask customers what side dish and beverage they wanted along with their entree and not to automatically provide fries and soda. And in 2012, McDonald’s completed the implementation of automatically including apples and a small serving of fries in every Happy Meal. Consumers also can opt to forego the fries and get two bags of apples instead. McDonald’s has estimated that this practice will put 100 million cups of apples in children’s hands annually.
Kolish briefly looked at CFBAI’s next steps. Its biggest action item is implementing the new uniform nutrition criteria that go into effect on December 31, 2013. These new criteria are far more comprehensive and stronger overall than the current company-specific criteria. The new criteria also will lead to more improvements. Many recipes will need to change if foods advertised in July 2011 (when the criteria were adopted) are to be advertised in 2014. Also, the criteria provide a strong but reasonable road-map for new product development.
“In far less time than it generally takes the government to propose and promulgate a rule, the Better Business Bureau not only created and implemented a comprehensive meaningful program but significantly expanded it several times. As a result, we have a robust voluntary program that has improved and continues to improve food advertising to children. This does not mean there isn’t room for improvement. There is always room for improvement. But I think it is important to have this perspective.” —Elaine Kolish