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Fast Food Chains, Pepsi and Makers of Prepackaged Groceries Join Forces Against "Senseless" Michelle Obama

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While Michelle Obama dances to Beyonce's “Move Your Body,” the American food industry is singing to the tune to “Ring the Alarm.”

Nobody's happy that American kids are ballooning to unprecedented sizes and developing diabetes before all their teeth come in. So one might assume that the first lady's effort to curb the childhood obesity crisis would be one of the few noncontroversial initiatives to come out of this White House -- right?

Well, not exactly.

A bill that would create voluntary nutritional standards for foods marketed to children, apparently, is a step too far for US food producers, fast-food chains and the media companies that promote them. Those forces, under the name Sensible Food Policy Coalition, have launched a lobbying campaign to stop the new guidelines, the Washington Post reports.

While no one is saying childhood obesity isn't a problem, the food industry argues it's already lowered sugar, sodium and fat in foods marketed to kids, thanks to standards it developed itself in 2006 and plans to update this week.

The coalition, which includes General Mills, Kellogg, PepsiCo, Time Warner and Viacom is hoping to sway the public against government standards by playing on fears of worsening the jobs crisis.

Although it's hard to argue voluntary guidelines with no enforcement mechanism could be “job-killing regulations,” the coalition is trying just that, promoting an economic analysis by an advertising lobby that claims the new standards would kill 75,000 jobs and $30 billion in food and drink sales yearly. That assumes advertising for food and beverages would drop 20% as a result of the (again, voluntary) guidelines.

So presumably, these guidelines would not only be totally effective in stopping the marketing of junk foods to children -- using only the power of shame, not any statutory force -- but they also would prevent the industry from marketing and selling different products that don't violate the standards.

I guess you could say to America's food makers, SpongeBob SquarePants-branded macaroni and cheese is “Irreplaceable.”
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