Kraft Foods Says Goodbye to Channel One News

July 2, 2003

Kraft Foods capping portion
sizes amid increasing obesity, lawsuits
By Deborah Cohen
Posted July 1 2003

CHICAGO – “Kraft Foods Inc., the biggest U.S. maker of processed
foods, on Tuesday said it would cap portion sizes, eliminate marketing in schools and reformulate some products as the food industry faces increasing legal blame for obesity and unhealthy eating trends.The maker of Oreo cookies and Velveeta cheese spreads said this year it will develop a range of standards to improve the overall nutritional content of its products and the way it sells them. It will begin making changes to the way it manufactures and markets foods beginning next year…

“This is sort of a preemptive move to stave off the lawyers and the critics,” said Henry Anhalt, an endocrinologist and director of the “Kids Weight Down” program at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn.

“What I think is going on is that the soothsayers are saying that coming down the pike are going to be large lawsuits, class action suits looking at cardiovascular disease, premature death, diabetes, and they’re going to turn to the food industry and lay it on their feet,” he said.

Still, he applauded Kraft for making changes that he believes will make a difference. Kraft could set standards that other major food companies could follow.

Obesity among adults in the United States has doubled since 1980, and tripled among adolescents, according to the U.S. surgeon general.

Kraft acknowledged that the moves may in part help indemnify the company against potential lawsuits…

Marketing fatty and sugar-laden foods to children has been a hot-button in the news. Last week, New York City’s school system decided to remove candy, soda and sweet snacks from school vending machines.

Last month, the head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said that agency plans to push for expanded nutritional labeling on food products.

Kraft said the changes it will make will include advertising and marketing to children to encourage appropriate eating behaviors and active lifestyles.

The company, which used to promote its products on Channel One, a news channel played in secondary schools, will now cease all in-school marketing.

Other big food industry players are also taking defensive measures. McDonald’s in March announced worldwide initiatives to help promote healthy lifestyles and provide consumers with expanded product information. It has also assembled an advisory council.”