Watchdog targets Kraft Heinz for disparaging healthy foods in ads

Watchdog targets Kraft Heinz for disparaging healthy foods in ads
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A consumer watchdog group has reported Kraft Heinz to the an independent advertising review agency over advertisements depicting children turning up their noses at healthy foods including vegetables.       

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) said in a news release that it had filed a complaint with the BBB National Programs’ Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU), arguing that advertisements from Kraft Heinz including a recent ad for Kraft Macaroni & Cheese violated CARU's guidelines for ads appearing on children's networks.

CSPI pointed to CARU's guidelines which state that advertising on children's networks "should not discourage or disparage healthy lifestyle choices or the consumption of fruits or vegetables."

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"Kraft Heinz violated these guidelines on multiple occasions by airing an advertisement that disparages vegetables while encouraging consumption of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese," CSPI's complaint reads.

“Disparagement of healthy foods in advertising reinforces children’s beliefs that healthy foods do not taste good and should be avoided,” CSPI's senior policy associate, Sara Ribakove, said in a statement. “Reinforcement of this belief in childhood can lead to negative beliefs about certain foods and poor eating habits later in life.”

A spokesperson for Kraft Heinz contented to The Hill in an emailed statement that the ads mentioned in CSPI's petition were marketed to parents, and added that they were no longer airing.

“As a founding member of the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI), Kraft Heinz supported the effort to establish industry standards, publicly pledged to follow parameters around marketing to kids, and remain committed to the responsible advertising outlined in the initiative," said Lynne Galia.

"The two ads referenced were specifically aimed at parents, not kids, and there are no plans to air either ad beyond 2021 as we continue to evolve our brand campaigns. As done previously, we will continue to assess advertising efforts through the lens of upholding our CFBAI pledge and Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU) compliance," Galia continued.

-- Updated at 10:10 a.m. on 3/25 to correct the name of BBB National Programs' Children's Advertising Review Unit.