NORTHFIELD, Ill. -- Kraft Foods Inc., the nation's biggest food manufacturer, said Wednesday it plans to curb its advertising of Oreo cookies, regular Kool-Aid and other popular snack foods to children under 12 as part of an effort to encourage better eating habits.
The company also said it would begin labeling food and beverages that meet certain nutrition criteria with a flag containing the product's benefits.
The new marketing program comes as food companies are facing rising criticism from some consumer groups and others that they are contributing to obesity in children.
"We're working on ways to encourage both adults and children to eat wisely by selecting more nutritionally balanced diets," Kraft senior vice president Lance Friedmann said in a written statement.
Kraft's Sensible Solution labeling would appear on products high in nutrients such as fiber or calcium or those determined to be "reduced," "low," or "free" in calories, fat, sugar or sodium.
Food such as Kraft 2% Milk Shredded Reduced Fat cheese and Post Shredded Wheat cereal and Crystal Light beverages would receive the flag label, the company said.
As part of the new marketing program, Kraft said it would quit advertising products that don't qualify for the nutrition label on cartoon shows and other broadcast and print media that are viewed primarily by children aged 6 to 11.
It said those products include regular Kool-Aid beverages, Oreo and Chips Ahoy! cookies, several Post children's cereals and some varieties of its Lunchables lunch combinations.
It would still advertise some varieties of those brands such as Sugar-Free Kool-Aid and 1/2 the Sugar Fruity Pebbles cereal on kid's program, however.
Kraft said it will replace the advertisements with those featuring healthier foods for children.
Two years ago, Kraft moved to reduce the fat content in 200 products in North America, cap portions for single-serve packaged snacks, quit marketing snacks at school and encourage healthier lifestyles.
Kraft shares slipped a penny to close at $34.23 Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange. The stock has traded in a 52-week range of $29.45 to $36.06.
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