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Kellogg's Pulls Immunity Claims (Update 1)

Posted by Jane Akre
Thursday, November 05, 2009 5:25 PM EST
Category: Protecting Your Family
Tags: FDA, Swine Flu, Immunity, Dr. Andrew Weil, Kellogg's, Vitamins, Supplements

Kellogg's Cereal will remove the immunity claims from its cereal box after public scrutiny, not an FDA mandate.

FDA Pressures Supplement Makers, Not Kellogg's

After a very public chiding for putting an immunity-boosting claim on a box of sugared cereal, Kellogg Co. says it will pull the claim from the front of the Rice Krispies and Cocoa Krispies cereal boxes. The company began advertising that its cereal "Helps Support Your Child's Immunity" before the public concern about swine flu.

Kellogg's of Battle Creek, Michigan, said it heard little from customers but was the recent brunt of media criticism. It will take several months to phase out the large banner, the company said.

The FDA did not get involved with this decision, but did chide GeneralMills for saying Cheerios could lower cholesterol. The FDA says only FDA-approved drugs can make such claims.

The FDA monitors claims, reports AP, but finds a statement like "supports immunity" to be a function claim, describing the role of the ingredient or nutrient, and not a health claim, though "Now helps support your child's immunity" could be seen as a health claim.

Meanwhile, supplement makers such as Dr. Andrew Weil, have received letters from the FDA warning against making immunity claims about its vitamin packs and immune support formula.

Here is the story that IB ran on Tuesday following a CBS News story.

Can Cereal Claim Immunity? So Far The Answer Is Yes

LEARN MORE

IMAGE SOURCE: CBS News video on Kellogg story


As Americans work toward their own personal type of health care reform- becoming healthier- there are companies that abound to fill the void.

The most recent is the nation’s largest cereal maker, Kellogg's.

Since May, the maker of Rice Krispies, Cocoa Krispies and Frosted Krispies has displayed a banner on its cereal boxes “Now helps support your child’s IMMUNITY." Kellogg's claims it has increased vitamins A, C and E up from 10 percent of daily recommended minimum to 25 percent.

But watch out - saying you are healthier or health promoting doesn’t make it so. Kellogg's has just found that out.

CBS News reports that the city of San Francisco wrote to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) asking for evidence of the immunity claims. CBS reports the letter says Kellogg “may mislead parents at a time when they are increasingly worried about the spread of the H1N1 virus.”

San Francisco weekly reports that San Francisco City Attorney, Dennis Herrera, who wrote the letter, claims 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.

Responding to San Francisco Weekly, Kellogg’s company spokesperson, Susanne Norwitz, said 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.

“It simply defies logic to think that spraying on some vitamins and minerals to a cereal that’s otherwise almost 40 percent of its weight in sugar makes a healthy product. It just doesn’t add up” says Kelly Brownell of Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity to CBS.

Is Kellogg playing on the fears of parents?

The company says it began developing the healthier lines of cereals more than a year ago.

In a statement, the company says, "These nutrients have been identified by the Institute of Medicine and other studies as playing an important role in the body's immune system. Therefore, we believe the claim ... is supported by reliable and competent scientific evidence."

The CBS Morning Show dietician contributor points out that the second ingredient in Cocoa Krispies is sugar, and it also has high fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated oils, otherwise known as trans-fats, known to clog arteries. Sugar is believed to actually weaken our immune system, says dietician Keri Glassman.

No word on how the FDA will proceed with Kellogg.

But the FDA has sent out 75 warning letters to makers of products that claim to help fight the flu including medications to air filters. Gary Coody, FDA’s national health fraud coordinator, tells the Wall Street Journal that some of them may actually cause harm.

The CDC insists that drugs are the answer, namely antivirals such as oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza) while it dismisses herbs, onions, homeopathic or other remedies.

Never mind that Tamiflu is derived from the Chinese star anise plant, according to the American Herbal Products Association which points out that many medications are derived from plants.

Dr. Weil

Among those who received an FDA letter is well-known and respected alternative/complementary medicine Dr. Andrew Weil. As a Harvard trained physician, Dr. Weil is one of the most widely known and respected alternative and integrative medicine expert frequently quoted for his opinion on health and wellness. His students train at the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine he established in 1994.

Dr. Weil received a letter from the FDA about his Immune Support formula. On his Web site,
Dr. Weil issued a Press Release in response to Today Show Story October 16.

He says “Because these products and the flu (which is a medical diagnosis) were both
mentioned in editorial content on the site, and it was suggested that particular
traditional herbal ingredients may provide some protection against flu, it was the opinion
of the FDA/FTC that the language was in violation of current standards.

“All Weil editorial content is reviewed for compliance with FDA /FTC guidelines. I directed the
website team to remove the FDA/FTC-referenced content for review, and they have done so. I fully support the FDA/FTC task force in its efforts.”

Natural News lists the Top Ten reasons why the FDA allows Cocoa Krispies cereal to make
immunity claims, among them, “Because nutritional health claims carry more scientific
weight when they’re introduced by magical singing elves.” #


2 Comments

Posted by JEAN H HOAGLAND
Friday, November 06, 2009 8:03 AM EST

Please use the word complementary (to complete) and not complimentary (at no cost, freely given)when describing natural medicines that Dr. Weil encourages.

Posted by Jane Akre
Friday, November 06, 2009 12:14 PM EST

You are correct of course. Thank you!

Comments for this article are closed.

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