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Tsk, Kellogg. Did you think no one would notice?

November 4, 2009 |  1:25 pm

-- First came the bold statement.

On boxes of Rice Crispies and Cocoa Crispies was the claim: "Now helps support your child's immunity." (The whole thing was in a bright yellow banner, with "immunity" rivaling the size of the product name.)

Colorful -- Then came the criticism and, of course, the media attention.

Here's Sunday's USA Today story: Critics blast Kellogg's claim that cereals can boost immunity. Said Kelly Brownell, director of Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, in that story: "By their logic, you can spray vitamins on a pile of leaves, and it will boost immunity."

And said the Boston Globe in an editorial today:  "Even if Cocoa Krispies and Rice Krispies were helpful against the flu, the side effects would be unacceptable in a nation where obesity is epidemic among children. Kellogg’s deserves no immunity from public scorn."

Apparently, the San Francisco city attorney got the ball rolling with a letter demanding some explanation. Here's "City takes aim at Kellogg's advertising," from the San Francisco Examiner.

-- Now comes the pullback.

Says today's press release: "Kellogg Company today announced its decision to discontinue the immunity statements on Kellogg's Rice Krispies cereals. ... While science shows that these antioxidants help support the immune system, given the public attention on H1N1, the Company decided to make this change. The communication will be on pack for the next few months as packaging flows through store shelves. We will, however, continue to provide the increased amounts of vitamins A, B, C and E (25% Daily Value) that the cereal offers."

Perhaps smaller companies can get away with such things.

-- Tami Dennis

Photo: All that's missing is the immune-boosting breakfast cereal. Credit: Los Angeles Times