Tuesday, June 15, 2010


The statement that"deception, thy name is food industry" is becoming increasingly apt to describe some of the actions of a few major players in this sector continuously striving to mislead consumers regarding the true strength of their products. It is true that labeling provisions are becoming more and more stringent in many countries to preempt such attempts and give the consumer a modicum of confidence regarding the quality and safety of marketed foods offered to them by the retailers. But high stakes involved in making money through devious means are temptations enough for engaging high paying consultants to find loopholes in the law so that rules can be circumvented. Here is an example of a multinational food player blatantly exploiting the vulnerability of the consumer to claims on good health and well being

"The Federal Trade Commission barred Kellogg's last year from running ads saying Mini-Wheats are "clinically shown to improve kids' attentiveness by 20 percent." To claim "benefits to cognitive health, process or function provided by any cereal or any morning food or snack food," was a no-no, unless the claims were true. But the F.T.C.'s order covered only cognitive abilities. So just as it was signing its consent, Kellogg's was starting a new campaign in which "Snap, Crackle and Pop" called out to parents from the Rice Krispies box promising to help "support your child's IMMUNITY."

What is so galling is that a giant like Kellog's receives only a notice and a negotiated settlement is reached with the concerned authorities! A spurious claim like the one made by this company should have attracted severest strictures and massive punitive steps. Probably the common perception of many consumers that high and mighty amongst the processors "can get away even with murder" seems to be true. Otherwise it is difficult to understand the impunity with which the same company is scheming to repeat the same offense in other products even before the ink has dried in the negotiated agreement!

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