Chilean watchdog sues Nestlé, Kellogg’s and Masterfoods for violating advertising regulations

By Gill Hyslop contact

- Last updated on GMT

Sam, Kellogg's Froot Loops mascot, is no longer allowed to entice Chilean children to eat their cereal. Pic: Kellogg's
Sam, Kellogg's Froot Loops mascot, is no longer allowed to entice Chilean children to eat their cereal. Pic: Kellogg's
The Servicio Nacional del Consumidor (SERNAC) is suing Kellogg’s, Nestle and Masterfoods for disobeying the protocols of Chile’s recently promulgated anti-obesity law.

Despite being issued with warnings several months ago, SERNAC contends that Kellogg’s, Nestlé and Masterfoods still haven’t removed the children’s characters on packets of various products classed as high in certain unhealthy ingredients.

On June 27, Chile passed the Law on Food Labelling and Advertising, which aims to curb high levels of obesity, especially among youngsters. According to local authorities, one in three children under the age of six suffers from excessive weight.

The cartoon ban

The law, which is one of the cornerstones of the Law on Protection of Consumer Right (LPC), has banned manufacturers from putting children’s cartoon characters on products like sugary breakfast cereals.

Manufacturers are obliged to add the seal ‘ALTON EN’ (meaning high in) to packets of foods high in sugar, saturated fats and other fattening nutrients.

It also outlawed the selling of snacks that include toys, such as Kinder Surprise chocolate eggs.

After the law was endorsed, SERNAC ordered 16 suppliers in the food industry to change their packaging on products aimed at children below the age of 14.

However, the two breakfast cereal giants and the distributor of m&ms argued they have a commercial right to use the illustrated children's characters as a brand symbol.

Big brother

But Ernesto Muñoz, national director, SERNAC, maintains that “industrial property rights and trademarks should not contradict compliance with health regulations” and the companies are violating both laws.

As such, SERNAC is demanding the three be issued with fines of 1,650 UTM ($113,000) each.

The Chilean watchdog will continue to closely monitor the media to ensure that all advertising aimed at children under the age of 14 years complies with the food labeling laws, as well as the LPC.

Related topics: Regulation & Safety

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