Assemblyman Felix Ortiz, (Brooklyn), Chair of the Task Force on Food Farm and Nutrition Policy described Kraft’s decision as a giant step in the right direction to address the “epidemic” of childhood obesity that Americans face today. The Assemblyman who has taken the lead in tackling the problem of childhood obesity with a range of legislation welcomed the nation’s biggest food manufacturer’s announcement as an example for others to follow.
Assemblyman Ortiz co-sponsors a bill that would expand existing school snack restrictions to ban candy, soda and other sugary foods from school vending machines to combat obesity among school children. The Assemblyman described Kraft’s move to eliminate in-school marketing in an effort to help fight obesity as proactive.
“This is an example of the kind of partnerships between the Private and Public Sector which I continue to encourage in the battle to prevent and reduce childhood obesity and related diseases. Our children need businesses to be part of the solution, and it is in the businesses’ own interest to prevent skyrocketing health care costs associated with the obesity epidemic.” said Ortiz.
It is Assemblyman Ortiz’s hope that other major food companies would make a business decision to respond to changing consumer demands for ‘better for you’ food products. For example, he called on restaurant chains to get on board and change their offerings to healthier products and provide nutrition information. Ortiz sponsors legislation requiring chain restaurant nutrition labeling of calorie, fat, carbohydrate and sodium content information on menus.
“Obesity is a complex public health problem affecting people globally, it is important that Corporate America rethink some of their products to fight obesity,” said Ortiz
Kraft intends to set guidelines for all Kraft products for the permitted content of calories, total fat, saturates fat, trans fat, sugars and sodium., recommended by an advisory council which will be operational by 2004. Assemblyman Ortiz indicated however that fast action needed to be taken to address this pressing issue and expressed concerns at their 2006/2007 estimated completion date.
As part of its announcement Kraft Food Inc also indicated an initiative to work on advocacy and education programs to encourage schools and communities to eat better and work on fitness. Ortiz welcomed these actions which would complement his recently passed legislation to create a state Childhood Obesity Prevention Program designed to prevent child obesity through media programs, school and community-based programs to improve nutrition and increase physical activity, and training for medical professionals.