US drinks firms have published their own guidelines on the nutritional content of products advertised to children

US drinks firms have published their own guidelines on the nutritional content of products advertised to children

Food and drink manufacturers including The Coca-Cola Co, Nestle and PepsiCo have published their own uniform guidelines on the nutritional content of products advertised to US children.

Published yesterday (14 July), the guidelines are an attempt to regain the initiative over the issue from the US government, which has put forward plans for criteria for the food and drinks industry to follow. The US government, which is facing rising levels of obesity, published its set of "voluntary principles" in April and invited public comment on its plans, including from the food and drinks industry. The deadline for comment passed yesterday.

US food and beverage makers, through The Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI), yesterday announced guidelines for ten categories, including dairy and juices.

For example, no added sugars are permitted in juices, and the serving must contain no more than 160 calories. For ready-to-drink flavoured milk, an 8-oz portion is limited to 24g of total sugars.

The CFBAI, which also includes companies like The Dannon Co, said the agreement between its members on the new nutrition guidelines would "change the landscape of what is advertised to kids by the nation's largest food and beverage companies".

CFBAI's VP and director, Elaine Kolish, said the criteria were "another huge step forward, further strengthening voluntary efforts to improve child-directed advertising".

She added: "Now products from different companies will meet the same nutrition criteria, rather than similar but slightly different company-specific criteria. The new criteria are comprehensive, establishing limits for calories, saturated fat, trans fat, sodium and total sugars as well as requirements for nutrition components to encourage."

The CFBAI, a programme of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, said the guidelines would require "many companies" to alter product recipes or they will not be able to advertise them after the end of 2013.