City takes aim at Kellogg's advertising

City Attorney Dennis Herrera has sent a scathing letter to Kellogg Co. today for claiming that Cocoa Krispies and other of its “sugar-laden” breakfast cereals will help boost children’s immunity to illnesses.

In the letter sent to the company’s president and CEO, Herrera expressed “serious concerns” about the large font printed on the Cocoa Krispies cereal box that reads, “Now Helps Support Your Child’s Immunity.”

The city attorney says that is likely false advertising, a potential violation of California’s Unfair Competition Law. He has asked Kellogg’s to prove its child immunity claims within 30 days. If the company fails to respond within that time, the City Attorney will “seek an immediate termination or modification of the advertising claim,” the letter said.
 
The claim is also printed on the Rice Krispies, Frosted Krispies and Jumbo Krispies cereal boxes. The products began appearing on shelves in San Francisco stores in recent months, Herrera noted.

“I am concerned that the prominent use of the immunity claims to advertise a sugar-laden, chocolate cereal like Cocoa Krispies may mislead and deceive parents of young children,” the letter said.

False advertising may make it so “parents are less likely to take more productive steps to protect their children’s health,” Herrera said.

The city attorney cited the swine flu scare as why it is extra important to be honest about nutrition.

The immunity claims by the company “may undermine critical public health efforts to prevent the spread of a disease that the President [of the United States] has declared to be a national emergency,” the letter said.

Herrera doesn’t only want Kellogg’s to point at the nutrition information on the side of its cereal boxes for proof that the products boost a child’s immunity. He wants it all, including all the consumer and scientific research the company has done to make the claim.

We’re talking “full reports of experiments, methods, results and outcomes,” Herrera wrote.

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