Kellogg’s, which is the largest breakfast cereal company in the world, lost a legal battle Monday, failing in their attempt to overturn England’s new anti-obesity legislation that forbids the advertising of sugary cereals. The outcome has supporters of the anti-obesity and sugar reduction movements celebrating.
Campaign manager at Action on Salt, Sonia Pombo, told Nutrition Insight: “We welcome the news that the High Court has ruled in favor of common sense, and dismissed Kellogg’s absurd claims that their HFSS cereals should be seen as healthier simply because it is consumed with milk.”
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The business that manufactures Coco Pops, Frosties, and Special K had challenged the United Kingdom government over restrictions that went into effect in October concerning the advertising of foods high in fat, sugar, or salt (HFSS).
A High Court judge dismissed the company’s contention that the restrictions do not consider the nutritional benefit of milk added to cereal. Judge Thomas Linden stated that pairing a high-sugar morning cereal with milk does not affect the fact that it is high in sugar.
In his ruling, he wrote that Kellogg’s claim that cereals like Crunchy Nut Clusters and Milk Chocolate Curls “somehow become healthy products if they are consumed with milk is wholly unconvincing, as the addition of milk does not alter the nutritional profile of the products themselves.”
Kellogg’s reaction to new limits
According to Chris Silcock, Kellogg’s UK managing director: “We brought this legal challenge because we believe the formula used to measure the nutritional value of food is wrong when it comes to breakfast cereals, and we believe it is right to stand up for what we believe in.”
“It makes little sense to us that consumers will be able to buy other products, like donuts and chocolate spreads, on promotion — but not many types of breakfast cereals,” he explains.
Silcock further claims that the UK government implemented these restrictions without appropriate Parliamentary examination.
“By restricting the placement of items in supermarkets, people face less choice and potentially higher prices. That’s why, in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, we would strongly urge the Government to rethink these regulations and put the consumer first.”
Foods that are classified as unhealthy according to the UK classification system will be prohibited from high-profile locations in supermarkets, such as checkouts, store entrances, and aisle ends, and will be subject to restrictions on how they are displayed in online supermarket search results. New rules will go into effect next year, prohibiting buy one, get one free deals and other promotions.
Evaluating the efficacy of nutritional profiling
Kellogg’s initially sued the UK government in April, saying that the standard Nutrient Profile Model used in the evaluation was invalid. According to them: “[Scoring cereals based on dry weight] matters as the formula will not take into account the nutritional elements added when cereal is eaten with milk – which is almost always the case, with 92 percent of cereal consumers choosing to eat their cereal with either milk or yogurt. In fact, 28.4 percent of all milk consumed in the UK is with breakfast cereal.”
The cereal company claims that the guidelines need to account for the fact that people will likely consume their cereals with milk or yogurt, altering the nutritional profile and preventing them from being classed as junk food. Company spokesperson Chris Silcock said the company is unhappy, but will not appeal.