For the second time in a year, Kellogg Company has been called to the principal’s office at the Federal Trade Commission and slapped on the wrist for misleading customers into thinking its cereal products offer unproven health benefits.
This time, Kellogg was under fire for an ad and marketing campaign for Rice Krispies that touted the snapping, crackling and popping cereal “now helps support your child’s immunity,” with “25 percent Daily Value of Antioxidants and Nutrients – Vitamins A, B, C, and E.” On the back of the packaging, customers were told, “Kellogg’s Rice Krispies has been improved to include antioxidants and nutrients that your family needs to help them stay healthy.”
Problem is, Kellogg had just been caught red-handed making false claims about their Frosted Mini-Wheats product. In that case, ads and packaging for the cereal claimed it had been “clinically shown to improve kids’ attentiveness by nearly 20%.” Except that wasn’t exactly true.
As part of their settlement in the Frosted Mini-Wheats dust-up, Kellogg swore not to make “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.”
So the FTC was understandably upset when they saw Kellogg blabbing about how Rice Krispies was some sort of miracle food.
Reaching a settlement once again, expanding the order from just a few month’s ago. Under the new agreement, Kellogg is barred from “making claims about any health benefit of any food unless the claims are backed by scientific evidence and not misleading.”
Said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz:
We expect more from a great American company than making dubious claims – not once, but twice – that its cereals improve children’s health… 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.
I’m sure they’ll be just as scared next time when they settle again without any actual legal or financial repercussions. Because there’s nothing that frightens a huge company more than being publicly scolded by the FTC.