WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — In comments submitted to the Interagency Working Group (IWG) on July 14, the North American Millers’ Association (NAMA) and eight other partners in the grain industry called on the IWG to withdraw its flawed proposal of industry guidelines for advertising foods to children 2–17 years old.

NAMA said that if adopted, the proposal discourages children from eating enriched, healthy grain foods, which are one of the most affordable ways for children to receive many of the vitamins and nutrients they need for a healthy lifestyle. Prohibited foods would include fiber-rich whole grain breads and whole grain cereals and enriched bread, pasta and rice.

Grains have been enriched since 1941 with iron and the B vitamins, riboflavin, niacin and thiamine. In 1998, folic acid was added to the enrichment formula. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recently listed folic acid fortification as one of the greatest public health achievements in the last decade due to its significant lowering of neural tube defects.

“The milling industry takes great pride in the role enriched grain foods have had in eliminating pellegra and beriberi and in reducing the amount of neural tube birth defects by 25%-35%,” said Mary Waters, NAMA president. “Grain-based foods are some of the most affordable means for achieving appropriate nutrient intake levels, making them especially critical for disadvantaged populations.”

In their comments, the grain industry argued the proposed advertising guidelines would only further “confuse the public by imposing a new set of nutrition standards that are inconsistent with other government mandates and most importantly, fail to follow federal statute mandating the Dietary Guidelines for Americans as the blueprint for all federal nutrition policy.”

The group also expressed concern about the “additional costs on food manufacturers should the proposed principles be adopted. Imposing significant product reformulations based on unrealistic and unworkable timelines would be counterproductive at a time when our country is still trying to work its way out of a crippling recession and many Americans remain out of work.”

Grain industry partners submitting the comments were: NAMA, American Bakers Association, AIB International, Grain Foods Foundation, Grains for Health Foundation, Independent Bakers Association, National Pasta Association, USA Rice Federation and Wheat Foods Council.