The healthy cereal lawsuit

By: Joseph Nelson

We all remember the sugar coated cereal we would eat before school started, or while watching our morning Saturday TV. But we all know that the “best way to start your morning” slogan that would appeal to kids and parents was completely fabricated right? Well, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) feel’s as though the marketing for these cereal should not have any saying of how it’s “healthy” or “good for you”. Now, I’ve loved cereal when I was a kid (when my mom would let me have them of course) but I feel like I knew this wasn’t healthy at all, so would this change much? The answer to that is yes!

With this new rule, the FDA will mandate that foods labeled as “healthy” must contain food groups like fruits, whole grain, dairy, and other added ingredients that must now fit a certain criteria in order to be approved as a “healthy” cereal. Now, what are the actual stats of this rule? Well, the rule will limit all cereal to no more than 2.5 grams of sugar per serving. This would restrict multiple food brands from being on the store shelf with what now would be false advertising.

To put it into perspective, Fruit Loops are 12 grams of sugar per serving, Lucky Charms are 10 grams, and Cocoa Puffs are also 10 grams. This means that these “healthy” foods are now 4x-5x over the maximum amount of sugar, per serving, that is allowed within these cereals.

Now, large cereal companies like General Mills and Kellogg’s, decried the proposed nutritional criteria and threatened legal action against what they say is a “violation of their first amendment rights”. The companies are going on to say that the healthy labeling requirements are an unconstitutional reach from the government power over the food industry. But the FDA says otherwise.

The FDA goes on to counter the claim of “lack of free speech” with a brief but thorough statement “cannot explain why consumers cannot make their own healthy decisions based on [nutrition labeling] data”. Rather, it seeks to limit the food companies’ ‘speech'” effectively saying that with this new proposal, the product’s ingredients will be completely transparent to the consumer and will give them a completely unbiased choice of whether or not they put that candy bar in their cart.

Now, how will this change for the consumer? Well, we know that the average day Fruit Loop consumer will probably still be filling the pockets of the big corporations. But the new single mom walking down the aisle, looking for a healthy cereal for her kid, will now see all these cereals around her and will be able to accurately choose the best healthy option for her and her kid.

That isn’t stopping me though, Cocoa Puffs will forever be my childhood favorite.

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