BATTLE CREEK, Michigan: Breakfast cereal giant, the Kellogg Company is to make its products healthier, or stop marketing them to children under the age of 12.

The maker of the iconic Corn Flakes brand has been under intense pressure - and legal saber rattling - from US advocacy groups, the Center for Science in the Public Interest and the Campaign for Commercial-Free Kids. They accused it of unfair and deceptive practices in marketing food of poor nutritional quality to children.

Kellogg has now unveiled plans to make popular brands like Pop Tarts, Froot Loops, and Apple Jacks healthier. But if the company's test kitchens cannot match the taste, it says it will leave the recipes alone and simply stop promoting the products to youngsters.

In addition, it says it will stop using licensed characters or branded toys to promote foods unless they meet nutrition guidelines.

Avers president/ceo David McKay: "It is a big change. Where we can make the changes without negatively impacting the taste of the product, we will."

The changes have smoothed the ruffled feathers of the advocacy groups which now have lifted the threat of legal action.

Comments Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest: "Kellogg's position has really evolved over those months from pretty much 'no way' to acceptance of some nutrient criteria."

He also hopes the company's move will put pressure on its rivals to adopt similar standards as the US battles with a childhood obesity epidemic.

Food manufacturers are insisting that self-regulation is enough to bring about restraint in food marketing to children, while some members of Congress believe federal legislation is needed.

Data sourced from New York Times; additional content by WARC staff