In an effort to combat childhood obesity, the Federal Trade Commission is trying to put together guidelines on how food is marketed to kids.
But according to the Sunlight Foundation, a political spending watchdog, big companies such as Nestle, Kellogg, Viacom, McDonalds, General Mills, and Time Warner have made a significant lobbying push that has prompted the FTC to back off certain aspects of the guidelines. Kellogg complained that the new voluntary guidelines “were too strict and among other things could eliminate their use of popular characters like ‘Tony the Tiger’ and ‘Ernie Keebler,’ the elf.
Apparently, Ernie the elf has a lot of friends in high places. These companies have spent more than than $37 million on lobbying this year and wield lots of influence in the halls of Congress through campaign donations.
The Sunlight Foundation reports:
"…David Vladeck, director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection for the FTC, announced that the agency was "in the midst of making significant revisions to its preliminary proposal' and that these changes would "share much in common" with new standards proposed by an industry group last summer. These changes include making the guidelines applicable to a smaller age group--children ages 2 to 11 rather than 2 to 17, and exempting seasonal advertising, such as in-store displays for Halloween."