Mead Johnson & Company, LLC
Preliminary Proposed Nutrition Principles to Guide Industry Self-Regulatory Efforts, Project No. P094513
I am writing on behalf of Mead Johnson & Company, LLC to provide comments on the Interagency Working Group on Food Marketed to Children Preliminary Proposed Nutrition Principles to Guide Industry Self-Regulatory Efforts (the proposal ). Mead Johnson opposes the adoption of the proposal, for reasons based on both the process of its adoption and the effects of its content. Mead Johnson is a leading manufacturer of nutrition products for infants and children in the U.S. and globally. Our mission is to nourish the world s children for the best start in life. We share with the agencies a desire to provide appropriate nutrition for children and truthful information to their parents, as well as to help find solutions to the problem of child obesity. However, we don t believe the proposal is a reasonable way to address such objectives. First, although the proposal is described as guidance and voluntary, it has the structure of regulations without the procedural protections. While guidance for voluntary measures is typically general, and is based on sets of circumstances and the party s motive, this proposal is more similar to typical regulations in that it is very specific, is based on detailed facts regardless of purpose, and specifies implementation dates. These standards would cause substantial changes and burdens for many manufacturers. If the agencies intended to achieve the results contemplated by the proposal, the proposal should not be attempted without the fact-finding and administrative procedures required by the rulemaking process. Second, the proposal will very likely have the effect of binding standards. If the agencies believe it is within the scope of their authority under their governing statutes to issue information and guidance materials on these topics, they will likely ultimately assert that it is within their authority under the same statutes to apply these same standards as interpretations for enforcement of those statutes. It is therefore important that any standards be subject to the protection and predictability of promulgated regulations. Third, the proposal attempts to define what advertising will be treated as advertising to children. While the definitions did not require the protections of the formal rulemaking process for them to be used solely for descriptive purposes in reports by one agency, it is a much more significant matter to adopt them as the prescriptive standards to determine when and where the accurate, truthful advertising of food products will be prohibited. The definitions given are based in part on generalizations about the audience of a particular medium instead of on the evident intent and truthful content of the advertisement. A manufacturer attempting only to provide truthful and relevant information to parents about products for their children would risk being accused of noncompliance if the same advertisement were also viewed by any of those parents children or were placed in a medium also viewed by children. Finally, we urge the IWG to withdraw the Proposed Principles, comply with Congressional direction and complete the study required by Congress in the FY 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Bill. Mead Johnson remains committed to nourishing the world s children for the best start in life, including helping to find solutions to the problem of child obesity. However, we oppose the effort to adopt far-reaching, detailed restrictions on products and advertising by the process and provisions in the proposal. Thank you for the opportunity to submit comments.