Mars Testifies for Nutritious Snacks

Urges Congress to update national school nutrition standards

Published in CSP Daily News

WASHINGTON -- In testimony in late March before the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry, Mars Snackfood US supported legislation to revise school food nutrition standards so that more nutritious products are available to students nationwide. The current federal nutrition standards for foods sold outside of the school meals programs in vending machines have not been updated since the late 1970s.

"Updated national school nutrition standards will ensure that children have access to a broad selection of healthier products," said Hank Izzo, Ph.D., vice [image-nocss] president ofresearch and development forMars Snackfood US. In his testimony, Izzo urged lawmakers to support the so-called 35-10-35 formula, which means that snackfoods sold in schools would have no more than 35% of calories from fat, 10% from saturated fat, and less than 35% sugar by weight.

"Schools operate in a unique environment that warrants special treatment when it comes to nutrition standards," added Izzo. "At home, parents make decisions about food, but at school, children often make decisions about what to eat for themselves. An updated national school nutrition standard will make it easier for schools and food manufacturers to work together to ensure children make smart decisions about the foods they consume. It also will provide some peace of mind to parents, knowing that the products for sale in schools meet nutrition guidelines."

"Today, we understand so much more about the relationship between food and health," said Izzo, who urged lawmakers to establish new standards either by passing new legislation or through the regulatory process. "The time to act is now. We look forward to working with the Committee to draft legislative language to ensure that these new standards are implemented as quickly as possible."

Mars is an industry leader when it comes to addressing global health and nutrition issues especially as they relate to foods in schools and the health and well being of school-age children. In 2006, Mars was one of the first five companies to partner with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a coalition started by The William J. Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association to empower kids to make healthy lifestyle choices. Mars has worked with the Alliance to encourage the adoption of new school nutrition guidelines that follow the 35-10-35 formula. In his testimony, Izzo pointed out that Mars was the only company to develop an entirely new line of healthier products, called Generation Max, which meets the Alliance guidelines.

At the end of 2007, Mars became the first chocolate company to voluntarily discontinue advertising and marketing directed toward children under the age of 12, worldwide. Last year, Mars became the first confectionery company in the world to voluntarily roll out new, easy-to-read and understand nutrition labels. As a science-based company, Mars continues to invest in research and development that can help make more healthy options.

Mars Snackfood US is the U.S. snack operations of Mount Olive, N.J.-based Mars North America, which has more than $7 billion in annual sales in the United States. Mars Snackfood US, headquartered in Hackettstown, N.J., makes brands such as Dove, M&M's, Milky Way, Snickers, 3 Musketeers, Twix and more. Additional popular brands in the petcare and food segments for Mars North America include Uncle Ben's, Pedigree and Whiskas.

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