FTC Investigation of Ad Claims that Rice Krispies Benefits Children's Immunity Leads to Stronger Order Against Kellogg

As posted on June 3, 2010 on www.ftc.gov

Leading cereal maker Kellogg Company has agreed to new advertising restrictions to resolve a Federal Trade Commission investigation into questionable immunity-related claims for Rice Krispies cereal. This is the second time in the last year that the FTC has taken action against the company.

“We expect more from a great American company than making dubious claims – not once, but twice – that its cereals improve children’s health,” said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz. “Next time, Kellogg needs to stop and think twice about the claims it’s making before rolling out a new ad campaign, so parents can make the best choices for their children.”

Kellogg has agreed to expand a settlement order that was reached last year after the FTC alleged that the company made false claims that its Frosted Mini-Wheats cereal was “clinically shown to improve kids’ attentiveness by nearly 20%.”

At about the same time that Kellogg agreed to stop making these kinds of false claims in its cereal ads, the company began a new advertising campaign promoting the purported health benefits of Rice Krispies, according to the FTC. On product packaging, Kellogg claimed that Rice Krispies cereal “now helps support your child’s immunity,” with “25 percent Daily Value of Antioxidants and Nutrients – Vitamins A, B, C, and E.” The back of the cereal box stated that “Kellogg’s Rice Krispies has been improved to include antioxidants and nutrients that your family needs to help them stay healthy.”

Under the original settlement order covering Frosted Mini-Wheats, Kellogg was barred from making claims about the benefits to cognitive health, process, or function provided by any cereal or any morning food or snack food unless the claims were true and substantiated.

The expanded order against Kellogg prohibits the company from making claims about any health benefit of any food unless the claims are backed by scientific evidence and not misleading.

The Commission vote to modify the 2009 settlement order was 5-0, with Commissioner Julie Brill and Chairman Jon Leibowitz issuing a separate joint concurring statement. “As a trusted, long-established company with a presence in millions of American homes, Kellogg must not shirk its responsibility to do the right thing when it advertises the food we feed our children,” they wrote in the statement, which can be found on the FTC’s website and as a link to this press release at: http://www.ftc.gov/os/caselist/0823145/100602kelloggstatement.pdf.

Copies of the expanded order and related documents can be found on the FTC’s website and also are available from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580.

NOTE: A consent agreement is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission of a law violation. When the Commission issues a consent order on a final basis, it carries the force of law with respect to future actions. Each violation of such an order may result in a civil penalty of up to $16,000.