Harkin critical of Shrek for promoting junk food
 

By Darwin Danielson

Radio Iowa

May 17, 2007

 
 

The third installment of the movie "Shrek" featuring the green ogre as the lead character premieres Friday -- but the character has already drawn a protest from Iowa Senator Tom Harkin. Harkin says Tuesday he sent a letter to the CEO of the company that produced the Shrek movie protesting the character's use in promoting junk food to kids.

Harkin says the character has been licensed to market Cheetos, Pop Tarts, Skittles, M&M's, Frosted Flakes, FrootSnickers, Cheeze-its, Keebler cookies and other items. "This is just irresponsible, and I fear it calls into question, the good faith of the food and advertising industry," Harkin says. Harkin, a Democrat, is on an F-C-C committee on media and childhood obesity along with Kansas Senator Sam Brownback. Harkin says they've gotten indications the companies want to work with them, but are prepared to take action if they don't.

Harkin says: "They have the option of using their creativity to encourage children to make positive healthful choices. Let me be clear, if theses industries continue on their present course, then government will have a responsibility to act. We're not going to stand idly by in the face of a worsening epidemic of childhood obesity and diabetes." Harkin says the marketing of junk food to kids continues to expand.

Harkin says the "Center for Digital Democracy" is releasing a report that documents how junk food marketing to kids has expanded far beyond television. Harkin says the report shows major food and beverage companies are using cellphones, instant messages, video games, and user generate videos "in order to target children and to foster ongoing personal relationships with them." Harkin says the new methods of marketing raise new concerns.

Harkin says the new mediums are not even on parent's radar screens. Harkin says one part of his Healthy Lifestyles and Prevention Act would allow the F-T-C to regulate the marketing. But Harkin says he also has left it open to allow the companies to "step up to the plate and make this legislation unnecessary." Harkin made his comments during a conference call with reporters