Federal Regulators Take Aim at Toucan Sam, Calling for Healthier Food

Filed under: Nutrition: Toddlers & Preschoolers, Nutrition: Big Kids, Nutrition: Tweens, Nutrition: Teens

healthy food

The FTC is making food manufacturers and restaurants an offer they can't refuse: Provide healthier food or the toucan gets it. Credit: Getty Images

Cap'n Crunch forced to walk the plank? Toucan Sam stuffed and mounted? Lucky the leprechaun deported?

It could happen.

The rabbit better watch out. He could find himself in the stew if he tries to steal one more box of Trix.

Silly rabbit. You don't mess with the Federal Trade Commission. Those people are potential cereal killers.

And they have the Cap'n and the rest of his cartoon cohorts in their cross-hairs. Think they're kidding? Look what they did to Joe Camel.

The New York Times reports the FTC is making food manufacturers and restaurants an offer they can't refuse: Provide healthier food or the toucan gets it.

"Toucan Sam can sell healthy food or junk food," Dale Kunkel, a communications professor at the University of Arizona who studies the marketing of children's food, tells The Times. "This forces Toucan Sam to be associated with healthier products."

The new FTC guidelines cover television, print and Internet marketing as well as food pushed through online games and product placement in movies.

The Times reports the guidelines are voluntary. But let's just say there are consequences if companies and their animated friends refuse to play ball. ("Those are some nice charms you got there, Mr. Lucky. Be a pity if some of them were to get ... broken.")

"There's clearly a demand hidden behind the velvet glove of the voluntary language," Dan Jaffe, executive vice president of the Association of National Advertisers, tells The Times.

Companies that do cooperate have five to 10 years to healthy up their food and get all their cuckoo birds in a row.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.