New mega agency wants to make sure kids are eating right

Federal Committee alert! A new mega-agency, calling themselves the “Interagency Working Group on Food Marketed to Children”, is planning on bringing the pain to a restaurant near you!

The IWGOFMTC (yikes) is a group of reps from the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture), the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), the FTC  (Federal Trade Commission), and the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). You would think when all these heavy hitters get together, it’s because something epic is about to happen. Something along the lines of a mega-disaster asteroid-covered-with-space-ebola is about to smack the earth. But noooooo.

The IWGOFMTC on December 15th “proposed tentative nutrition standards for food marketed to children… the voluntary guidelines would cover food marketed to children up to the age of 17 and place restrictions on products that contain significant amounts of sugar, sodium and saturated fat.”

Voluntary guidelines? The USDA, the CDC, the FTC and the FDA are all just going ask restaurants to change? It’s going to all be voluntary?

Their “voluntary guidelines” are pretty surprising….

“…advertised foods must not contain more than 1 gram of saturated fat per serving and not more than 15% of calories; no more than 13 grams of added sugar; no more than 200 mg of sodium (this level would be interim and over time should be reduced to 140 mg); and must be trans fat free.”

So a bunch of government based heavyweights decided to get together to fight a new “problem” and they’re doing it “for the children”. This looks and sounds a lot like the beginning of something like the Tipper Gore’s Parents Music Resource Center. You ‘member that mess? When they spent tons of money and wasted thousands of hours in congress and the end result was that CDs would need to have a “PARENTAL ADVISORY” sticker on them? You ‘member?

What’s great about all this is that they’re already specifically targeting Yum! Brands, Chuck E. Cheese and IHOP “for their lack of initiative in adhering to meaningful nutrition-based standards for foods marketed to children.” (Yum! brands would be KFC, A&W Restaurants, Long John Silvers, Pizza Hut, Wing Street, and Taco Bell.)

They’re going after Taco Bell for not having nutritious food for children. I rest my case.

The proposed nutrition standards that they’re working on “are expected to be published in the Federal Register in January, at which point they will be open for comment with possible implementation by the summer of 2010.” They’re also going to be looking at “foods that are advertised on children’s programming, especially on children’s cable networks.”

“Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius said now is the time to act, pointing to the growth of web sites and games that are just as effective as television in reaching children. “No matter what standards we create, we’re probably not going to stop kids from liking Cheetos,” Ms. Sebelius said. “But if a kid gets diabetes when he’s 18 partly because when he was younger he only ate the foods he saw everyday on TV and the Internet, that’s not his fault. It’s our fault.”

Um… actually, according to the little Oompa Loompa yelling into my ear, that’s the parent’s fault if the kid grows up chubby and can’t fit into his pants. Mom and Dad need to tell porky pig jr to cut back on the food or the little ADD ankle biters on the playground will make his life a living hell. Government shouldn’t have anything to do with that.

Here’s the link to the Food Business News Article about the IWGOFMTC.