Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity
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Rudd Radar

Report Documents Copycat Snacks in Schools

June 12, 2014

All foods sold outside of the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), such as food from vending machines and school stores, will have to meet United States Department of Agriculture “Smart Snacks” nutrition criteria starting July 1, 2014. “Smart Snacks,” which is part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, will limit the calories, fat, sugar, and sodium of these foods.

According to a recent report by the Public Health Advocacy Institute (PHAI), major food companies like PepsiCo are producing reformulated versions of popular junk foods like Cheetos® and Doritos® that meet the Smart Snacks criteria, but use the same brand names, logos and spokescharacters as those used to market traditional junk food.

The authors assert that these copycat snacks are not widely available for purchase outside of schools and are clearly designed to co-market traditional junk food to children in school.

In a recent video and article in The New York Times, Michael Moss describes how food companies are trying to stay ahead of USDA’s rules when it comes to marketing junk food in schools.  “Companies like Domino’s are making more healthful versions of their food to sell in schools, prompting concerns about the use of brands in the school lunch line,” according to Moss.

PHAI’s issue brief describes copycat snacks, how they undermine nutrition education efforts, and what can be done to stop the sale and marketing of these products in schools.