FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Oatmeal Envy

by CHRISTOPHER BRAUCHLI

They’ve taken all the fun out of cereal boxes. That’s not all. They’ve imposed big fines on the one who tried to make them fun and threatened another. Of course the cereal companies are partly to blame.

Those of advanced years remember with what pleasure the new cereal box’s advent at the breakfast table was greeted by the young. In families with more than one child that one prize led to breakfast time controversy, as the siblings tried to determine who the recipient of the coveted object should be. Among the treasured prizes were such things as decoder rings that enabled the wearer to decode secret messages should the decoder happen upon any. Other prizes included plastic airplanes that purported to be models of actual airplanes but bore only the faintest resemblance to any actual airplane.

In the 1950’s there were even more exciting trinkets including the Atomic Ring and the Meteorite Ring, the characteristics of which are charmingly described by Edward Meyer in the College Hill Review. Recent events suggest that cereal companies may want to return to the days of freebies in boxes instead of health claims on boxes. Consider the plight of Kellogg’s Frosted Mini-Wheats and their recent encounter with the Federal Trade Commission.

Those who manufacture “Bite Size” Frosted Mini Wheats distinguishing them from other cereals that are presumably not “Bite Size” (although exactly how to describe the size of a Post Toastie or a Rice Krispie I’ll leave professional advertisers to decide) have long since abandoned the practice of including the eagerly awaited toy in the box designed to appeal to the young consumer. This is the 21st Century and cereal companies believe that in order to attract buyers it’s the nutritional rather than the amusement value that counts.

Kellogg’s did research and, according to the Federal Trade Commission, claimed in its advertising that the attention span of children who ate Frosted Mini Wheats improved nearly 20 percent over children who skipped breakfast. (Some may wonder if there is a scientific disconnect in that conclusion but I’ll leave that to those smarter than I to figure out.) The FTC found that Kellogg’s study showed an improvement in only 11 per cent of the students studied and the attention span of only one-half of those students increased 20 per cent. As a result of this, Kellogg’s will be subject to a fine of up to $18,000. It would probably have been better off sticking to decoder rings and tiny plastic airplanes. Since misery loves company, Kellogg’s is probably delighted with the plight of its rival, General Mills.

General Mills has been taken to task not by the Federal Trade Commission but by the Food and Drug Administration. (Why two different agencies have jurisdiction over seemingly identical infractions is unclear. It may be because Cheerios’ infraction affects those with heart conditions rather than attention deficit disorder. That suggests that many cereals are only half a generation removed from snake oil.)

General Mills has apparently been suffering from Oatmeal Envy. According to the FDA it has been misleading those seeking to reduce their cholesterol. It has long been known that oatmeal as well as certain other foods can reduce cholesterol. In a study released by the Mayo Clinic describing the foods that lower cholesterol, however, Cheerios was not included. Undeterred by its non-inclusion, for the last two years General Mills proclaimed that those who faithfully eat the cheerful little “O”s can reduce their cholesterol by 4 per cent within six weeks. In so doing, it has awakened an FDA that spent a happy 8 years under George Bush’s administration, sleeping.

In a letter to General Mills, the re-awakened FDA advised the company that: “Based on claims made on your product’s label, we have determined that your Cheerios® Toasted Whole Grain Oat Cereal is promoted for conditions that cause it to be a drug because the product is intended for use in the prevention, mitigation, and treatment of disease.” The letter goes on to advise the company that Cheerios “may not be legally marketed with the above claims in the United States without an approved new drug application.” General Mills says its science is strong and it looks forward “to discussing this with FDA.” If it loses it can always put decoder rings back in the packages.

CHRISTOPHER BRAUCHLI is a lawyer living in Boulder, Colorado. He can be reached at: brauchli1@comcast.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

February 21, 2017
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
Finance as Warfare: the IMF Lent to Greece Knowing It Could Never Pay Back Debt
CJ Hopkins
Goose-stepping Our Way Toward Pink Revolution
John Wight
Firestarter: the Unwelcome Return of Tony Blair
Roger Harris
Lenin Wins: Pink Tide Surges in Ecuador…For Now
Shepherd Bliss
Japanese American Internment Remembered, as Trump Rounds Up Immigrants
Boris Kagarlitsky
Trump and the Contradictions of Capitalism
Robert Fisk
The Perils of Trump Addiction
Deepak Tripathi
Theresa May: Walking the Kingdom Down a Dark Alley
Sarah Anderson
To Save Main Street, Tax Wall Street
Howard Lisnoff
Those Who Plan and Enjoy Murder
Franklin Lamb
The Life and Death Struggle of the Children of Syria
Binoy Kampmark
A Tale of Two Realities: Trump and Israel
Kim C. Domenico
Body and Soul: Becoming Men & Women in a Post-Gender Age
Mel Gurtov
Trump, Europe, and Chaos
Stephen Cooper
Steinbeck’s Road Map For Resisting Donald Trump
February 20, 2017
Bruce E. Levine
Humiliation Porn: Trump’s Gift to His Faithful…and Now the Blowback
Melvin Goodman
“Wag the Dog,” Revisited
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima: a Lurking Global Catastrophe?
David Smith-Ferri
Resistance and Resolve in Russia: Memorial HRC
Kenneth Surin
Global India?
Norman Pollack
Fascistization Crashing Down: Driving the Cleaver into Social Welfare
Patrick Cockburn
Trump v. the Media: a Fight to the Death
Susan Babbitt
Shooting Arrows at Heaven: Why is There Debate About Battle Imagery in Health?
Matt Peppe
New York Times Openly Promotes Formal Apartheid Regime By Israel
David Swanson
Understanding Robert E. Lee Supporters
Michael Brenner
The Narcissism of Donald Trump
Martin Billheimer
Capital of Pain
Thomas Knapp
Florida’s Shenanigans Make a Great Case for (Re-)Separation of Ballot and State
Jordan Flaherty
Best Films of 2016: Black Excellence Versus White Mediocrity
Weekend Edition
February 17, 2017
Friday - Sunday
David Price
Rogue Elephant Rising: The CIA as Kingslayer
Matthew Stevenson
Is Trump the Worst President Ever?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Flynn?
John Wight
Brexit and Trump: Why Right is Not the New Left
Diana Johnstone
France: Another Ghastly Presidential Election Campaign; the Deep State Rises to the Surface
Neve Gordon
Trump’s One-State Option
Roger Harris
Emperor Trump Has No Clothes: Time to Organize!
Joan Roelofs
What Else is Wrong with Globalization
Andrew Levine
Why Trump’s Muslim Travel Ban?
Mike Whitney
Blood in the Water: the Trump Revolution Ends in a Whimper
Vijay Prashad
Trump, Turmoil and Resistance
Ron Jacobs
U.S. Imperial War Personified
David Swanson
Can the Climate Survive Adherence to War and Partisanship?
Andre Vltchek
Governor of Jakarta: Get Re-elected or Die!
Norman Pollack
Self-Devouring Reaction: Governmental Impasse
Patrick Cockburn
The Coming Destruction of Mosul
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail