The Kellogg Company has settled a dispute with the Oregon Department of Justice and Attorney General John Kroger over immunity claims it was making for its breakfast cereal, Rice Krispies.
In November, Kellogg said it would quit making the claims after they drew heavy criticism from parent groups concerned about the 40 percent sugar levels in the cereals, but said it would let existing stocks run out.
Under the terms of the settlement in Oregon, Kellogg’s will cease nationwide shipments bearing the “helps support your child’s immunity” claims by January 15 unless it provides advance notice to the Oregon Department of Justice, along with supportive science.
Kellogg spokesperson, Kris Charles, told NutraIngredients-USA.com the company had no plans to make further immunity claims on its cereals.
Kellogg agreed to destroy two million units of packaging containing the claim and donate 108,000 boxes of cereal to the Oregon Food Bank and 372,000 boxes to Feeding America.
“Kellogg should be credited with addressing the allegations quickly and constructively,” said Attorney General Kroger of the $1m+ donation. “This settlement will directly benefit Oregonians who are hungry.”
The claims stated immunity could be boosted 11 percent and were being made on a range of Rice Krispies versions including Coca Krispies, Frosted Krispies and MultiGrain Jumbo Krispies.
Kellogg began adding vitamins A, B, C and E at 25 per cent of daily recommended values to Rice Krispies over a year ago and added the immunity claim in May. Almost instantly, it drew criticism due to the sugar content.
Kellogg was also accused of playing on swine flu concerns – charges it denied as it said the H1N1 pandemic erupted after it began making its claims. Kellogg’s cited the bad publicity that blew up around the swine flu issue as one of the reasons it ceased making the claims, and has not back-tracked on the veracity of the claims despite their removal.
In May Kellogg said: "These nutrients have been identified by the Institute of Medicine and other studies as playing an important role in the body's immune system. Therefore, we believe the claim ... is supported by reliable and competent scientific evidence."
Kellogg said vitamin A, B, C and E levels would remain unchanged, with or without the claim.
The move follows a Kellogg’s decision not to promote the ‘Smart Choices’ scheme after the Food and Drug Administration raised concerns about the potential for such labels to mislead consumers.