American Society of Magazine Editors

Revised Food Marketing “Voluntary Principles” Still to be Issued; Age Cutoff Expected to be Lowered from 17 to 12

Following comments by MPA and others in July 2011, highlighting the First Amendment failings of the food marketing “voluntary principles” issued earlier in 2011 by the Interagency Working Group on Food Marketed to Children, in October the Federal Trade Commission – one of the four agencies in the working group – announced at a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing that the working group was making significant revisions to the principles. The expected revisions include modifying the age for which food marketing restrictions apply from 17 to 12, and easing limits on branded marketing and sponsorships.

Created by a 2009 Act of Congress, the Interagency working group is comprised of the FTC, Centers for Disease Control, the Food and Drug Administration, and the US Department of Agriculture. The initial version of the principles issued by the working group would have dictated that magazines with readerships exceeding 30% for children ages 2-11 or 20% for adolescents ages 12-17 could only contain advertising for food that met extremely restrictive nutrition principles.

At the hearing, the heads of the four agencies involved indicated that they revised principles would be released by the end of 2011, a deadline that still has not been met.