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Kellogg's new antioxidant labelled cereal makes 'no health claims'

By Jane Byrne , 21-Jul-2010

Related topics: Suppliers

Cereal giant Kellogg’s said its new breakfast product will help consumers add antioxidants and other nutrients to their diets, in a launch that comes on the heels of an FTC settlement order imposed on the cereal maker last month over 'immunity' health claims.

Susanne Norwitz, a Kellogg Company spokesperson, said the nutritional information reflected on the front of pack and on the nutrition facts panel of its new FibrePlus Antioxidant brand indicates that the product will deliver 35 to 40 percent of a consumer’s daily fiber (depending on variety), in addition to antioxidant vitamins C and E.

“Kellogg’s FiberPlus Antioxidants Cereals do not make health claims, but rather state the amount of fiber and antioxidants on the front of pack,” she told NutraIngredients-USA.com.

FDA regulation

According to US Food and Drug Administration guidance, describing the level of antioxidant nutrients present in a food is a nutrient content claim, and may be used on food labels in conjunction with food regulations (21 CFR 101.54(g)).

However, antioxidant nutrient content claims can only be made if the nutrients have an established Reference Daily Intakes (RDI), as well as scientifically recognized antioxidant activity. The scientific evidence must show a nutrient’s effect on free radicals in the body after it is eaten and absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract.

Immunity claims

Last month, the Kellogg Company had their wrists slapped by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over immunity claims aimed at kids on Rice Krispies.

Those claims, which have now been removed by the cereal maker, were described by the FTC as “dubious” and included: “now helps support your child’s immunity” and “25 percent Daily Value of Antioxidants and Nutrients – Vitamins A, B, C, and E that your family needs to stay healthy.”

The FTC, to the surprise of many industry analysts, did not impose a financial penalty on the $13bn food giant, with instead Kellogg’s agreeing 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 per cent.”

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 now on making claims about any health benefit of any food unless the claims are backed by scientific evidence and not misleading.

Market monitoring

Meanwhile, the number of products with ‘antioxidants inside’ style labels is mushrooming, according to Mintel’s Global New Products Database (GNPD).

In 2009, there were 409 launches globally with ‘antioxidants’ flagged on the labels, compared with 154 in 2005 and 299 in 2007

The overall market for antioxidants was valued at $12bn (€8.8bn) in 2009, according to Euromonitor International.

“Rich in” labels preferred

Recent US research found that antioxidants claims that choose wording such as “rich in antioxidants” are much more likely to draw a response from consumers than "antioxidants added".

The Decision Analyst research surveyed more than 16,000 people and found 40 percent of respondents would be more likely to buy products "very frequently" or "somewhat frequently" if products bore the “rich in” labels.

"Antioxidants added" labels only appealed to 25 percent of consumers.

"Our findings suggest that more Americans frequently consume products labeled 'rich in' these ingredients, compared to products that have the same ingredients 'added',” said Diane Brewton, senior vice president of the Market Intelligence Group at Decision Analyst.

“This is likely due to the perception that foods rich in an ingredient are more natural and less processed, compared to foods that have these ingredients added to them during the manufacturing process."