WASHINGTON DC: The Federal Trade Commission is planning to issue compulsory 'requests' for information about food marketing to children. The regulator intends to target a broad range of businesses, from fast-food to beverages, as it prepares a congressional report.

FTC chairman Deborah Platt Majoras, unveiled the plan last week in a little-reported speech to the Food and Drug Law Institute, telling delegates: "We hope to get a more complete picture of marketing techniques for which publicly available data have so far been lacking."

Food marketing to youngsters is increasingly scrutinized by federal law-makers, health lobbyists and advocacy groups as the nation battles with a child obesity epidemic.

Information about food advertising on TV is readily available, but the FTC wants to clarify the extent that manufacturers use other means to target children.

Adds Majoras: "This effort is exploring not only traditional TV, print and radio advertising, but will provide an analysis of all of the many other ways that the industry reaches children: through instore promotions, events, packaging, the internet and product placement in video games, movies and television programs."

The FTC is planning to further explore the subject in a second joint workshop with the Department of Health and Human Services in July.

The first such event, two years ago [WARC News: 19-July-05], urged marketers to increase self-regulation of their promotion of 'junk foods' - in part to head off the threat of legal intervention. Majoras says the new workshop will look at how much progress has been made.

Data sourced from AdAge.com; additional content by WARC staff