I think it’s a natural instinct to want to give your child a good start to life. In doing so, one tries to select and prepare healthy foods which will start the child on a path toward becoming a strong and healthy adult. However, the days of preparing foods from scratch are gone. Today’s parents are challenged to balance the benefits of convenience with those of nutrition and cost. Unfortunately, it’s becoming more difficult to make an informed selection in a marketplace that is stocked with foods screaming healthy claims but are not really nutrient dense.
In this regard, the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI) has made a first attempt to establish uniform standards for marketing and advertising to kids by member companies. Previously all member companies had their own standards so this move toward uniform standards will give parents some assurance that the food they choose is not packed with unnecessary excesses in sodium, sugar, saturated and trans- fats. The standards affect foods in the following categories: dairy; grains; fruits and vegetables; soups and meal sauces; seeds; nuts, nut butters and spreads; meat, fish and poultry; mixed dishes; and prepared main dishes and meals, such as macaroni and cheese, with each category having its own criteria. If approved, the new CFBAI standards, will affect at least 1/3 of the products now advertised as food for children requiring them to improve their nutrient profile.
Since taste sells, prepared foods have often increased their appeal at the expense of health. This has led to a backlash against prepared foods, which have been blamed for many of our societies’ ills. In fact, it is not the technology but the competitive need to attract the largest market that is the problem. By instituting the agreement, foods designed for children will be more like the food that we would have made if we had had the time and skill to prepare them. This agreement, although not as strict as those recommended by the Interagency Working Group earlier this year, can help children to appreciate the taste of nutrient dense foods so they can grow up to be adults who appreciate the taste of simple flavors and voluntarily limit excessive intake.
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