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What are the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI) and the Children’s Advertising and Review Unit (CARU)?

Founded in 2006, The Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI) is an initiative by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) that focuses on food and beverages that are advertised to children under the age of 12. Seventeen food companies representing the vast majority of food advertising to children are using meaningful, science-based standards for their advertising to children (or not engaging in child-directed advertising), and those standards have resulted in steady, significant improvements in the nutrition composition of foods in child-directed advertising. Late last year CFBAI adopted new category-specific uniform nutrition criteria. These criteria take into account current food science, U.S. dietary guidelines, and the practical difficulties of changing formulations. The criteria will require the participants to change many products they currently advertise to children — products that already meet meaningful nutrition standards — if they wish to continue advertising them after these criteria go into effect on December 31, 2013. More information on the new criteria can be found here.

Another BBB program, Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU), founded in 1974, focuses on how all products, including food and beverages, are marketed to children under 12 years of age. CARU has set very high standards to protect children from misleading, inappropriate, and deceitful advertisements. CARU provides guidelines for appropriate advertisements, reviews ads that are already released, and provides a pre-screening option for companies. CARU began the Safe Harbor program in 2001 in order to protect children's privacy online. 

Both of these programs are voluntary and are run by the Better Business Bureau. Leading confectionery companies have signed onto CFBAI's pledge and are supporters of CARU.