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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Oh, Snap: City Attorney Demands Proof of Cocoa Krispies' Immunity-Boosting Claim

Posted By on Tue, Oct 27, 2009 at 4:59 PM

Get a flu shot, kids
  • Get a flu shot, kids
Kellogg's just can't get a break. First, one pissed-off cereal consumer realizes that Froot Loops cereal contains no actual fruit and decides to sue for false advertising. Now Kellogg's is dealing with more false advertising claims, this time from San Francisco City Attorney, Dennis Herrera, who just announced that he has written a letter to the CEO of the cereal company demanding evidence that Cocoa Krispies really "helps support your child's immunity" as it purports to do on the front of the box.

Herrera claims that the company is playing to the public's fears about the recent swine flu epidemic by insinuating that eating Cocoa Krispies is analogous to, say, getting a flu shot. "The immunity claims may also mislead parents into believing that serving this sugary cereal will actually boost their child's immunity, leaving less likely to take more productive steps to protect their children's health," reads Herrera's letter.

Herrera's spokesman, Matt Dorsey told SF Weekly that although other cereals
may make similar medicinal claims, oftentimes those companies will include "language that adds 'truthiness,'" he said. "The content and prominence of the line 'now helps support your child's immunity' is a significant departure from normal marketing-speak." Kellogg's has not yet returned SF Weekly's calls.

Cocoa Krispies' ingredients do not include flu vaccines (and the "immunity" cereal is 40 percent sugar by weight). Yet, according to Kellogg's Web site, the breakfast cereal is laden with high-fructose corn syrup, which is apparently very healthy -- if you believe corn syrup advertisements sponsored by corn farmers.

UPDATE: A Kellogg's company spokesperson, Susanne Norwitz, responded to SF Weekly's inquiries in an email this morning. Norwitz wrote that Kellogg's Krispies cereals provide consumers with 25 percent of their daily value of vitamins A, C, and E, which play an important role in boosting immunity according to peer-reviewed, published, scientific research.

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